June 17, 2024


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MLB incorporates Negro League stats into all-time record book with Josh Gibson now the career batting average leader

MLB incorporates Negro League stats into all-time record book with Josh Gibson now the career batting average leader

Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Josh Gibson, infielder for the Homestead Grays in Pittsburgh, practices his swing before a game at Forbes Field in 1940.


Major League Baseball (MLB) has incorporated statistics from former Negro League players into its historical records on its website, meaning that legendary leaders in some categories like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb have now been replaced in the record books by players who were not allowed to be. Playing on the same fields they played on during apartheid.

Josh Gibson, one of the greatest players in the history of the Negro Leagues, is now listed as MLB’s new all-time leader in batting average at .372, ahead of Ty Cobb at .367.

The MLB website shows Gibson also bests Babe Ruth in career slugging percentage.

“We are proud that the official historical record now includes Negro Leagues players. This initiative is focused on ensuring that future generations of fans have access to the statistics and accomplishments of all those who made the Negro Leagues possible,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

“Their accomplishments on the field will serve as a gateway to broader learning about this triumph in American history and the path that led to Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Dodger debut.”

CNN has requested comment from MLB.

Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Josh Gibson slides home safely during the 1944 Negro League East-West All-Star Game at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

Gibson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

“I know Josh Gibson had a great career in the Negro Leagues. He’s considered one of the greatest players of all time, but we always considered Josh Gibson a major leaguer anyway. He’s a major leaguer,” Shawn Gibson, the baseball player’s great-grandson, told ABC’s Good Morning America. : “He has now been recognized in Major League Baseball statistics.”

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The Baseball Hall of Fame plaque for the hard-hitting slugger — one of 35 Negro League All-Stars honored in Cooperstown — says he “hit nearly 800 home runs in major league and independent baseball” during his 17-year career.

However, the majority of these players did not come in league-sanctioned games (about 50 to 75 per season) but in exhibitions played against former major league players and semi-professional white teams.

“It’s a great day,” Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Museum, told Yahoo Sports. “The great thing about it is we’ve said that a lot over recent days and weeks in regards to the Negro Leagues.

“This is the result of a lot of intense efforts by some amazing historians and researchers who devoted themselves entirely to trying to do something that people thought maybe wasn’t possible.”

This comes after about three and a half years MLB recognized the Negro Leagues as their equivalent and counted the statistics and records of thousands of black players who played in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to the late 1940s.

Although this recognition occurred in December 2020, MLB at the time He said he needed time to review how this recognition would impact the MLB record books. That was partly because some statistics were still being compiled and because MLB needed to sort league-sanctioned games from exhibitions.

“A lot of people have heard of Martin Dehigo, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. But what about the thousands of other men who played in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1948? They are finally being recognized as major league-caliber ballplayers,” Scott Simkus, one of Researchers who are credited with compiling and building the MLB game. Seamheads Negro Leagues Databasehe said at the time.

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“Their statistical records and careers would be considered equal to anyone who played in the National League or American League during that time period.”

Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

The Newark Eagles of the Negro League pose at home at Robert Field for a team photo in 1939. Monte Irvin is in the back row, far left, and Mall Suttles is in the middle of the back row.

MLB said in 2020 that it was “correcting a long-standing wrong” by raising the profile of the Negro Leagues — which consisted of seven leagues and about 3,400 black and Latino players from 1920 to 1948.

“It’s sad that this great history has been withheld from them,” Larry Lester, co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, said at the time.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said the recognition “serves as a historic affirmation of those who were shunned from the major leagues and had the foresight and courage to create a league of their own that helped change the game and our country.” also.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.