MLB recognizes Negro Leagues as ‘Major League’

Major League Baseball announced that it will now consider the Negro Leagues “Major League” and will count the stats and the records of more than 3.400 players as part of its history.

MLB said Wednesday that it is seeking to correct “a longtime oversight in the game’s history” by raising the Negro Leagues to the centennial of its establishment.

To do so, MLB will merge the stats of the Negro League players who played between 1920-48.

Their records were eliminated from MLB history in 1969 when a Special Committee on Baseball Records was created and they recognized six official major leagues from 1876. The Negro Leagues were not included.

“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 its statement.

MLB said it is taking into account contributions from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Negro Leagues Researchers and Authors Group, and studies by other baseball writers.

The league will collaborate with the Elias Sports Bureau to examine statistics and records from the Negro Leagues and determine how they can be integrated into MLB history.

“It’s a great day. Christmas came early,” said Sean Gibson, whose great-grandfather, Josh, played in the Negro Leagues.

Josh Gibson, the greatest Negro League hitter ever, might just wind up with a major league record for home runs on top of it.

Gibson, for example, now has the second-highest batting average (.365) in MLB history behind Ty Cobb (.366). His on-base percentage (.449) ranks fifth, and he’s now one of just 12 players (minimum 3,000 plate appearances) with an OPS over 1.000 (1.139), joining Turkey Stearnes, Mule Suttles and Oscar Charleston on that list.

“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 Gibson’s estate 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.”

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