Negro Leagues statistics to be officially integrated into MLB historical record

On Wednesday, statistics from the Negro Leagues will officially become part of Major League Baseball’s historical record. This milestone follows more than three years after MLB’s announcement to elevate the Negro Leagues to major-league status.

Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays Negro League Baseball Team

The integration involves over 2,300 players from the seven iterations of the Negro Leagues spanning 1920-1948. Historically, the Special Baseball Records Committee of 1969 included the American League, National League, American Association, Union Association, Federal League, and Players’ League but excluded the Negro Leagues from major-league status.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Museum, expressed his excitement, telling Yahoo Sports, “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. … 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.” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred also commented, “We are proud that the official historical record now includes the players of the Negro Leagues. This initiative ensures 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.”

A committee of baseball historians, Negro League experts, former players, researchers, and journalists meticulously reviewed data, box scores, and statistics uncovered by Seamheads, RetroSheet, and the Elias Sports Bureau. John Thorn, MLB’s official historian, noted the importance of diverse perspectives on the committee to ensure accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The statistics integrated into MLB records include league play data, excluding barnstorming or exhibition games. Notably, Josh Gibson’s records, such as his .466 single-season batting average (1943) and career .372 average, surpass current MLB leaders. Gibson also became the career leader in slugging percentage (.718) and OPS (1.177), moving ahead of Babe Ruth (.690 and 1.164). Additionally, former Negro Leagues players like Willie Mays, Minnie Miñoso, Larry Doby, and Jackie Robinson will have their statistics updated and integrated. The review and updates will continue as more data becomes available.

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