Negro League stats being added to MLB records 'long time coming'



Birmingham Black Barons 1954 Pride Courtesy Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Inc

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  • On Wednesday Negro League statistics were integrated into Major League Baseball’s historical record.

  • This propelled Josh Gibson to the top of three statistical categories, including his becoming the all-time leader in batting average.

  • “This has been a long time coming,” Sean Gibson, the executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation and the Baseball Hall of Fame catcher’s great-grandson, said.

(NewsNation) — For decades, Josh Gibson was considered among the greatest Negro League players to ever compete, but as far as baseball’s record books went, his numbers weren’t included alongside those of the game’s other greatest performers.

That changed Wednesday when Negro League statistics were integrated into Major League Baseball’s historical record, propelling Gibson to the top of three statistical categories, including his becoming the all-time leader in batting average.

“This has been a long time coming,” Sean Gibson, the executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation and the Baseball Hall of Fame catcher’s great-grandson, told “NewsNation Now.” “Major League Baseball made this huge announcement back in 2020, and here we are, now almost four years later, and it’s finally coming to fruition.”

He added, “It was great to see these stats come today.”

On Wednesday, Josh Gibson became MLB’s all-time career leader in batting average and slugging percentage. He also now holds baseball’s single-season record in the two categories as well as in on-base plus slugging.

Gibson played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays and was one of more than 2,300 players who competed in the Negro Leagues.

The addition of the Negro League records took place 3 1/2 years after Major League Baseball announced in 2020 that it would be elevating Negro League statistics to MLB’s official record books.

In a statement, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the combination of records will “be a gateway to broader learning about this triumph in American history.”

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

A special committee on baseball records decided in 1969 to recognize six major leagues dating back to 1876: the National (which launched in 1876), the American (1901), the American Association (1882-1891), Union Association (1884), Players’ League (1890) and Federal League (1914-1915).

It excluded the National Association (1871-75), citing an “erratic schedule and procedures.”

But that all changed Wednesday when the Negro League records were officially entered into the MLB statistics. Sean Gibson said that the move was not only great for his family but for all of those whose loved ones starred in the Negro Leagues.

In Josh Gibson’s case, it involved surpassing Ty Cobb for baseball’s all-time top batting average and Babe Ruth for slugging percentage.

“I’m very excited that it came from Major League Baseball,” Sean Gibson said Wednesday. “This is not an independent statistics committee that came to get these statistics in; this came from Major League Baseball. So now, when you Google Josh Gibson’s name, you’ll see Josh Gibson’s name ranked as one of the greatest baseball players of all time.”



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