Negro League Stats To Be Integrated Into the MLB Record Book

3,400 Negro League players will now have their names and stats listed in official MLB records.

The contributions of Negro League baseball players will officially be recognized in the Major League Baseball record book.

CBS Sports reports that approximately 3,400 players who played between 1920-48 in seven professional leagues will now have those stats included within MLB.

Rob Manfred, commissioner of MLB, confirmed the change in a statement.

"We are proud that the official historical record now includes the players of the Negro Leagues," Manfred’s statement read. “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."

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Museum, expressed his excitement about the Negro League players finally receiving this long-overdue recognition. 

Meet Bob Kendrick: President Of The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

“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. …," Kendrick told Yahoo Sports. "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.”

Integrating Negro League stats was a tedious process that was years in the making. In 1969, a special committee on baseball records was convened and it decided to recognize six major leagues dating back to 1876: the National (which launched in 1876), the American (1901), the American Association (1882-1891), Union Association (1884), Players' League (1890) and Federal League (1914-1915). 

In December 2020, the MLB announced that it would be "correcting a longtime oversight" with the addition of the Negro Leagues. John Thorn, the offcial historian of the MLB, “chaired a 17-person committee that included Negro Leagues experts and statisticians.”

"The condensed 60-game season for the 2020 calendar year for the National League and American League prompted us to think that maybe the shortened Negro League seasons could come under the MLB umbrella, after all," Thorn said at the time.

The project consisted of a Negro League statistical review committee, “Negro League experts, former players, researchers and journalists, reviewed data, box scores, statistics and additional information uncovered by Seamheads, RetroSheet and the Elias Sports Bureau.”

“We looked for historians, statisticians, and stakeholders who all could be expected to have concern that MLB would get the process and the product right,” Thorn explained. “We were not looking for 'like minds' but instead potentially contentious ones.”

Beginning on Wednesday (May 29), Josh Gibson, a Negro League icon who is regarded as one of greatest hitters ever, is the current all-time leader in career batting average .372, edging out Ty Cobb's .366, his slugging percentage at .718 surpasses  Babe Ruth's .690, and OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging) which is 1.177, beats Ruth's 1.164. Gibson is also the new single-season leader in each of those categories.

Although the Baseball Hall of Fame has a plaque dedicated to Gibson that says he "hit almost 800 homers" during his career, the committee “did not include anecdotal evidence”, stating that a majority of his home runs weren't listed in a box score or came outside of league play.

Sean Gibson, Josh's great-grandson, shared his gratitude that his grandfather’s name and other-worldly talent will be recognized in the annals of baseball history.

"When you hear Josh Gibson's name now, it's not just that he was the greatest player in the Negro Leagues, but one of the greatest of all time. These aren't just Negro League stats. They're major-league baseball stats," Sean Gibson, Josh's great-grandson, told USA Today. "This means so much for not only the Josh Gibson family but representing the 2,300 men in the Negro Leagues who didn't get the opportunity to play (in MLB)."

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