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Historian with Mosaic Templars Cultural Center speaks on move to incorporate Negro Leagues records in MLB history

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The MLB has been hard at work since 2020 when they made the first announcement of integrating the statistics from seven major Negro Leagues.

Major League Baseball has now absorbed the available Negro Leagues stats into the official historical records.

“So, this is a big day in baseball in the history of baseball specifically for those players who played in the Negro Leagues,” Brian Rodgers with the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center said.

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One of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center exhibits follows sports in African American culture, highlighting one team from Arkansas history.

“Our mission is to preserve, interpret, and celebrate Arkansas’s African American history and culture, and one of the ways that we do that, as you see, is our new exhibit, which we opened in December,” Rodgers said. “I really love in the community section we talk about baseball.”

The exhibit reports that the Negro National League was founded in 1920 by Andrew “Rube” Foster, known as the father of black baseball and a player in the Hot Springs Arlingtons.

“We think about the history of baseball now we can also think about some of those Negro League players,” Rodgers said.

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The Negro National League and the six other independent Negro Leagues, including Eastern Colored League, American Negro League, East-West League, Negro Southern League, Negro National League and Negro American League provided African American baseball players an avenue to play at a time when they were banned from playing in the majors.

“Now they get recognized with the all-time greats,” Rodgers said.

Absorbing the numbers from 1920-1948 changes some of the record holders.

“Those players who hit 3-400 home runs in the Negro Leagues will now be among the top home run hitters in the history of baseball, which is a big deal,” Rodgers said.

Hall-of-Famer Josh Gibson has become the new all-time leader in batting average, surpassing its previous holder, Ty Cobb. Gibson is just one such case.

“Little kids all around the country can look at players like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige and see that their historical numbers matter in MLB,” Rodgers said.

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There were more than 2300 Negro League baseball players, according to the MLB research. However, only three players are still alive, including 99-year-old Bill Greason, 97-year-old Ron Teasley, and 93-year-old Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays.

“I think it’s a fight that their families have been fighting for years to have their loved ones being recognized as one of the all-time greats in major league baseball,” Rodgers said.

According to the MLB, the Negro Leagues produced 37 eventual members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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The MLB also reports that Jackie Robinson’s integration into MLB marked the beginning of the end for the Negro Leagues as desegregation began in the baseball world.

“Arkansas historically has been big in baseball, and I think recognizing these Negro League players will have people to start to think about Arkansas and his historical place in the history of baseball,” Rodgers said.

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