Baseball’s Negro Leagues’ Stats Will Be Incorporated Into MLB Records

Major League Baseball will officially be including statistics for the Negro Leagues in its record books on Wednesday, USA Today has reported.

While the segregated leagues produced some of the best baseball players in the sports’ history, thousands of players who played in iterations of the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1948 have been omitted from professional rankings — until now.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred celebrated the news in a statement on Tuesday.

“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,” he said, per Yahoo Sportss. “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.”

The change means that catcher Josh Gibson will now be considered one of the best hitters of all time, recording a single-season batting average of .466 in 1943.

Josh Gibson gets tagged out by the catcher during 1944's East-West All Star Negro baseball game at Chicago's Comiskey Park. Gibson will now hold the record for best single-season batting average.
Josh Gibson gets tagged out by the catcher during 1944’s East-West All Star Negro baseball game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. Gibson will now hold the record for best single-season batting average.

Bettmann via Getty Images

Gibson, who played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays between 1930 to 1940 and then from 1942 to 1946, also leads all-time records for slugging, as well as topping the combined on-base and slugging category. Both rankings were previously held by Barry Bonds.

Gibson now eclipses Ty Cobb for all-time career batting average.

Additionally, former Negro Leagues players who later became major league hall of famers, like Willie Mays, Minnie Miñoso, Larry Doby and Robinson, will now have their pre-1947 numbers factored into their major league stats accordingly.

Athletes who played in the Negro Leagues were initially elevated to major league status in 2020, but it took years to properly assess their stats and have them integrated with the MLB record.

In order to properly factor in the leagues’ stats, a review board comprised of baseball historians, Negro Leagues experts, former players, researchers and journalists assessed data from box scores, game statistics and other historical sources.

“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,” John Thorn, official MLB historian, told Yahoo Sports. “We were not looking for ‘like minds’ but instead potentially contentious ones.”

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