The Negro League’s Are Welcomed Into MLB’s Statistical Database

Eric Urbanowicz
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Major League Baseball has announced that they’ll be integrating the Negro Leagues into their statistics date base. More than 2,300 players who appeared in one of the seven versions of the leagues between 1920 and 1948 will have their statistics added to the record books.

This change, as well as the one made more than three years ago to elevate the Negro Leagues to major-league status, ultimately helps move the history of baseball in America to completion.

In a statement, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said, “We are proud that the official historical record now includes the players of the Negro Leagues. This initiative is focused on ensuring that future generations of fans have access to the statistics and milestones of all those who made the Negro Leagues possible. Their accomplishments on the field will be a gateway to broader learning about this triumph in American history and the path that led to Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Dodger debut.”

Negro League Museum president Bob Kendrick also weighed in on the integration.

“It’s a big day. The great thing about it is that we’ve been saying that quite a bit over recent days and weeks as it relates to the Negro Leagues,” stated Kendrick.  “This is the result of a lot of intensive effort by some incredible historians and researchers who have completely dedicated themselves to trying to do something that people thought probably wasn’t possible.”

So now the question ultimately becomes, how does this affect the record books?

Probably the most notable change will be that former Homestead Grays catcher and National Baseball Hall of Famer Josh Gibson will now hold multiple records in baseball. First and foremost, he’ll now hold the single-season records for batting average (.466 in 1943), slugging percentage (.974 in 1937) and on-base plus slugging percentage percentage (1.474 in 1937). The slugging percentage and OPS records were previously held by former All-Star outfielder Barry Bonds.

Then there’s the career records Gibson will now hold. His .372 batting average will help him surpass the previous record holder, Ty Cobb (.367), a record that was often disputed amongst baseball historians between the two over the last few years. His .718 slugging percentage and 1.177 OPS will also give him the records, previously held by the legendary Babe Ruth.

Another aspect that will change in the history books are the increased legacies of some players. As many know, players like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Larry Doby and Satchel Paige who played in both MLB and the Negro Leagues will see their stats changed accordingly.

As time goes on, statistics will likely come out and change the record books again. As more and more of the Negro Leagues are discovered and their statistics are released, the more changes will come. In the meantime, we can celebrate this win for history, baseball and all those who were shut out for over a century.

Eric Urbanowicz


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