Negro Leagues now part of Major League Baseball, stats counted in MLB records

About 3,400 players were part of these seven leagues that existed from 1920 to 1948.

Dec. 16, 2020, 1:21 PM EST / Updated Dec. 16, 2020, 2:48 PM ESTBy David K. Li

Major League Baseball on Wednesday announced that records of Negro Leagues players and teams will be included in the game’s official statistics, in a “long overdue recognition.”

Before Jackie Robinson broke professional baseball’s race barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Black players were barred from MLB play, depriving many baseball fans from seeing some of the best hitters, pitchers and fielders of the 20th century.

Kansas City Monarchs pitching great Leroy Satchel Paige warms up at New York's Yankee Stadium Aug. 2, 1942 for a Negro League game between the Monarchs and the New York Cuban Stars.
Kansas City Monarchs pitching great Leroy Satchel Paige warms up at New York’s Yankee Stadium Aug. 2, 1942 for a Negro League game between the Monarchs and the New York Cuban Stars.Matty Zimmerman / AP

“All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game’s best players, innovations and triumph against a backdrop of injustice,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.null

“We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record.”

The records and stats of 3,400 players who competed in seven leagues for Black players between 1920 and 1948, will be included in MLB records, officials said.

“For historical merit, today is extraordinarily important. Having been around so many of the Negro League players, they never looked to MLB to validate them,” Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick said in a statement. “But for fans and for historical sake, this is significant, it really is.”

MLB is now comprised of two leagues, the National League, founded in 1876, and the American League, which began play in 1901. Their champions have met in the World Series in almost every October since 1903.null

And along the way, several other upstart leagues have challenged the AL and NL without lasting success.

Contributions of those four other groups — the American Association (1882-1891), Federal League (1914-15), Union Association (1884) and the Players’ League (1890) — were recognized in a 1969 report by MLB’s Special Committee on Baseball Records.

But the “omission of the Negro Leagues from consideration was clearly an error that demands today’s designation,” according to an MLB statement on Wednesday.

“The perceived deficiencies of the Negro Leagues’ structure and schedule were both born of MLB’s exclusionary practices, and denying them Major League status has been a double penalty,” MLB’s official historian John Thorn said in a statement. “Granting MLB status to the Negro Leagues a century after their founding is profoundly gratifying.”

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