Deserved, long overdue recognition of Negro Leagues by MLB originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Major League Baseball made a significant announcement Wednesday, designating the Negro Leagues as an official piece of "Major League" history.
Negro Leagues stats will now count toward a player's major-league career totals. Ostensibly, Satchel Paige's major-league win total would grow from 28 to 174. Jackie Robinson's career batting average would increase by a point to .312 because of his numbers in one season with the Kansas City Monarchs.
Sluggers like Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell, who never appeared in MLB, will be credited for their contributions. It's rewarding, overdue news for the approximately 3,400 players who appeared in the Negro Leagues, which existed from 1920-60 and included the Philadelphia Stars from 1933-52.
Though, some of the stats are incomplete. MLB and the Elias Sports Bureau are undergoing a review process to determine the "full scope of this designation’s ramifications on statistics and records."
"All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game's best players, innovations and triumphs against a backdrop of injustice," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record."
In 2019, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and a group of Phillies players, coaches and club officials took a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum during an off-day in Kansas City. In a tour hosted by museum president Bob Kendrick, the group learned more about the league's collection of players and personalities, such as Hall of Famer Roy Campanella, a Philadelphia native and Simon Gratz HS alum who hit .333/.362/.505 in the Negro Leagues before winning three MVPs with the Dodgers.
Satchel Paige team poses for a portrait with Roy Campanella before the 1961 Negro League American All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. (Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images)
"The thing that struck you during the hour-long tour is how upbeat everything is at the museum. There is no woe in the place. It’s a celebration of the game framed around the adversity the players overcame to play it. Frankly, there’s a lot of joy in the place," Jim Salisbury wrote that day.
Kendrick said this in a statement:
"In the minds of baseball fans worldwide, this serves as historical validation for those who had been shunned from the Major Leagues and had the foresight and courage to create their own league that helped change the game and our country too. This acknowledgment is a meritorious nod to the courageous owners and players who helped build this exceptional enterprise and shines a welcomed spotlight on the immense talent that called the Negro Leagues home."