Some of baseball’s greatest players emerged out of the Negro baseball leagues from 1920-1948, and now Major League Baseball announced that the records of these players will become part of the game’s official statistics.
The game of baseball will now be adding the records of players from the Negro Leagues as part of its overall canon of the game’s official statistics, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced on Wednesday, a move that it called “long overdue recognition,” NBC reported
Now that Major League Baseball will recognize the Negro Leagues, the statistics from 3,400 players from this 28-year period will be part of the catalog of MLB records.
During the 28-year span of the Negro Leagues between 1920-48, it produced some of the greatest players in history of baseball, including 32 MLB Hall of Fame members who are enshrined in Cooperstown. Players include such greats Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Satchel Paige, Monty Irvin, Josh Gibson, James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell and MLB’s second Black player, Larry Doby.
In March 1945, the White majors created the Major League Committee on Baseball Integration. They were seeking one candidate to break the color barrier. They narrowed it down to three potential signings: Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Jackie Robinson. However, it would be two years until Jackie Robinson became the first player to break the color barrier in major league baseball when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
Campanella would debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers the following year in 1948, and Newcombe would take the field with the Dodgers in 1949, going on to be the first pictcher win Rookie of the Year and be the first Black pitcher to start in a World Series game.
The Negro Leagues, also called the Negro Major Leagues, existed from 1920 until 1948 and were comprised of roughly 7 leagues. This “golden age” beginning in 1920, saw the establishment of the National Negro League and its governing body, joined the National Association of Colored Professional Baseball Clubs (NACPBC), in Kansas City, Missouri, where the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum stands today.
The league initially was composed of eight teams: Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABCs, Kansas City Monarchs and St. Louis Giants. The Negro Southern League founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1920, and in 1921, it joined the NACPBC. The Eastern colored league was established in 1922 and had six teams: Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, Baltimore Black Socks, Brooklyn Royal Giants, New York Cuban Stars, Hilldale, and New York Lincoln Giants.
A World Series between these two leagues began in 1924.
After the 1927 season, the Eastern league folded, and a new Eastern league was formed as the American Negro League with the same teams, except replacing the defunct Brooklyn Royal Giants with the Homestead Grays.
Around 1932, the Negro National League folded, but at the same time, a new league, the East-West League, was founded. Eight cities were represented in the new league: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark, New York, and Washington, D.C.
The next Negro league to be founded came about in 1933, using the same name as an old league: Negro National League. Its teams were: Pittsburgh Crawfords, Columbus Blue Birds, Indianapolis ABCs, Baltimore Black Sox, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Cole’s American Giants (formerly the Chicago American Giants) and Nashville Elite Giants. This was also the first Negro league to have an All-Star game: The East-West All-Star game. Its inaugural game was played on September 10, 1933, at Comiskey Park in Chicago before a crowd of 20,000.
In 1937, the Negro American League was founded. After integration by Blacks into major league baseball beginning in 1945, when the New York state legislature passed the Fair Employment Practices Act, interest in the Negro leagues began to diminish. As more and more MLB teams integrated, by 1948, the golden era of the Negro leagues was over.