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Wed, 12.16.2020

Major League Baseball, and Negro League Baseball Combine Histories

*On this date in 2020, Major League Baseball reclassified Negro Baseball League baseball as Major League Baseball. 

This statistically combines Negro League player statistics with Major League Baseball players.  The league will work with the Elias Sports Bureau to review Negro League statistics and records and figure out how to incorporate them into Major League Baseball’s history. There was no standard method of record-keeping for the Negro Leagues, but there are enough box scores to stitch together some of its statistical past.  The adjustments will be interesting, especially for those Black men who played in both leagues.

Willie Mays will add some hits to his record, Monte Irvin’s big league batting average should climb over .300, and Satchel Paige may add nearly 150 victories.  Josh Gibson, the greatest of all Negro League sluggers, may also have a major league record.  The statistics and records of greats like Gibson, Paige, and roughly 3,400 other players are set to join Major League Baseball’s books after Major League Baseball announced it is reclassifying the Negro Leagues as a major league.  Major League Baseball said it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history” by elevating the Negro Leagues on the centennial of its founding.

The Negro Leagues consisted of seven leagues, and they began to dissolve one year after Jackie Robinson became Major League Baseball’s first Black player in 1947.  The major leagues will include records from those Negro League circuits between 1920-48. Those leagues were excluded in 1969 when the Special Committee on Baseball Records identified six official “major leagues” dating to 1876.  Major League Baseball said it considered input from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group, and studies by other baseball authors and researchers. 

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, “All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game’s best players, innovations, and triumphs against a backdrop of injustice,” “We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record.” 

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