OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss has lost a multi-sport legend with the death of Joe Gibbon, 83, who passed away Wednesday, Feb. 20, at his home in Newton, Mississippi.
Playing baseball and basketball for the Rebels, Gibbon was inducted into the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. He was a 2002 SEC Basketball Living Legend and earned a spot on the Ole Miss All-Century team. The Hickory, Mississippi, native was named to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.
Gibbon attended Ole Miss from 1954-57, arriving in Oxford on a baseball scholarship. He posted a career batting average of .384, which tied for fourth in Ole Miss history. Earning All-SEC honors and hitting .438 during the NCAA District III Tournament, Gibbon led the Rebels to the 1956 College World Series. Ole Miss placed third at the CWS, which is still tied for the best finish in school history.
On the hardwood, Gibbon recorded 1,601 points to rank ninth on the Ole Miss all-time scoring list. He was a first team All-America pick in 1957 by the Helms Athletic Foundation. The Atlanta Constitution player’s poll also voted Gibbon as the SEC’s Most Valuable Player. He averaged 30.1 points per game that year, becoming the second player in SEC history to average more than 30 points per game. That mark still ranks second in the Ole Miss season scoring record books. Gibbon averaged a double-double in each of his final two seasons, earning All-SEC accolades along the way. His 45 double-doubles over his career still stand as a school record. Following his senior season, Gibbon was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 1957 NBA Draft.
Despite his selection in the NBA Draft, Gibbon chose to play professional baseball and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He moved up to the majors in 1960 and played 13 seasons with four different teams (Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Houston). In his rookie season, Gibbon posted a 4-2 record to help the Pirates capture the National League pennant and advance to the World Series. For three of the next four seasons, he was the ace of the Pirates pitching staff. Later in his career, Gibbon moved to the bullpen, recording 11 saves in 1969 and 1971.
Following his professional baseball career, Gibbon served as head baseball coach at Clarke College for eight years.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019 from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at the Newton County Funeral Home-South in Newton, Mississippi. Funeral services will be held Monday, February 25, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Newton County Funeral Home-South. Burial will follow in the Garlandville Methodist Church Cemetery.
He was preceded in death by his wife Donna Price Gibbon; his parents, Eugene and Elsie Gibbon; his sister, Jean Johnson; his brother-in-law, Robert Price.
Survivors include his children, Joe Gibbon Jr., David Gibbon (Kristi), Jennifer Gibbon Seal, Luke Gibbon (Dawn), and Dan Gibbon; his brother, Billy Gibbon (Lucille); his sister-in-law, Nancy Price; four grandchildren, Jenna Seal, Ella Gibbon, Gus Gibbon, and Avery Gibbon.
The family request in lieu of flowers donations to be made to the Clarke College Alumni Scholarship Fund and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Museum.