Major League Baseball gives special honor to Negro Leagues
Is now official ‘major league’
OW Staff Writer | 12/25/2020, midnight
Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced that 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 MLB will include records from those circuits between 1920-48. The Negro Leagues began to dissolve one year after Jackie Robinson became MLB’s first Black player with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Those leagues were excluded in 1969 when the Special Committee on Baseball Records identified six official “major leagues” dating to 1876. “It is MLB’s view that the Committee’s 1969 omission of the Negro Leagues from consideration was clearly an error that demands today’s designation,” the league said in a statement. The league will work with the Elias Sports Bureau to review Negro Leagues statistics and records and figure out how to incorporate them into MLB’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. For instance, Willie Mays could be credited with 17 hits from his 1948 season with the Alabama Black Barons. Monte Irvin, a teammate of Mays’ with the New York Giants, could see his career average climb from .293 to .304 if numbers listed at Baseball-Reference from his nine Negro League seasons are accurate. And Satchel Paige, who currently is credited with 28 major league wins, should add at least 146 to his total.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled by this recognition of the significance of the Negro Leagues in Major League Baseball history,” said Edward Schauder, legal representative for the estate of Negro League slugger Josh Gibson and co-founder of the Negro Leagues Players Association. “Josh Gibson was a legend who would have certainly been a top player in the major leagues if he had been allowed to play.” MLB 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. “The perceived deficiencies of the Negro Leagues’ structure and scheduling were born of MLB’s exclusionary practices, and denying them major league status has been a double penalty, much like that exacted of Hall of Fame candidates prior to Satchel Paige’s induction in 1971,” baseball historian John Thorn said. “Granting MLB status to the Negro Leagues a century after their founding is..