NEW YORK, N.Y. — Major League Baseball made huge news regarding Negro League records on Wednesday. According to MLB, Negro League statistical records from 1920 to 1948 will be included with official MLB records. Hence, MLB is recognizing the quality of those players as comparable with its own during that era.
As a result, the nearly 3,400 players Negro League players will be acknowledged as major leaguers.
The seven leagues from that era also produced 35 players who were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
So, now Josh Gibson’s 238 recorded home runs will count in the MLB record books. So too will Willie Foster’s 150 victories.
Elias Sports Bureau will also begin a review process for MLB on the designation and the impact on records and statistics. What isn’t being included are various “barnstorming tours,” or stats from before 1920 or after 1948. So, Willie Mays, who played with the Birmingham Barons in 1948, will have his hit totals and batting average change. Elston Howard, who played with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1948, adds 13 hits and one home run to his totals as well.
Yet, one could make the argument that many of the Negro League records post-1948 and post-MLB integration should count too. Even after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball race barrier in 1947, many MLB teams had unwritten quota limits on black players, with typically no more than five players per roster.
Additionally, there were still a good amount of teams who refused to sign or promote black players. Howard became the first African American player on the New York Yankees in 1955. The Boston Red Sox were the final team to have a black player, calling up Pumpsie Green in 1959.
Considering how MLB has recognized rivaling leagues such as the American Association, Union Association, Players’ League, and Federal League, since 1968, coupled with counting stats from the “steroid era,” it’s great to finally see players and their statistics recognized from the Negro Leagues.