MLB adds Negro Leagues stats to record books, making Josh Gibson all-time leader in batting average, more (2024)

Major League Baseball has officially incorporated Negro Leagues statistics into the Major League record, the league announced Wednesday. MLB elevated the Negro Leagues to "Major League" status in 2020 and recognized the "statistics and records" of approximately 3,400 players who played in the Negro Leagues between 1920-48. Now they are part of the official record.

"We are proud that the official historical record now includes the players of the Negro Leagues," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "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. Their accomplishments on the field will be a gateway to broader learning about this triumph in American history and the path that led to Jackie Robinson's 1947 Dodger debut."

Seven leagues comprised the Negro Leagues between 1920-1948: Negro National League (I) (1920-1931), Eastern Colored League (1923-1928), American Negro League (1929), East-West League (1932), Negro Southern League (1932), Negro National League (II) (1933-1948), and the Negro American League (1937-1948). Experts estimate records from these leagues are 75% complete.

As result of Wednesday's integration, Negro Leagues legend Josh Gibson is now baseball's all-time leader in career batting average (.372, beating out Ty Cobb's .366), slugging percentage (.718, beating out Babe Ruth's .690), and OPS (1.177, beating out Ruth's 1.164). Gibson is also the new single-season leader in those categories. The new single-season leaderboards:

Batting averageSlugging percentageOPS

1. Josh Gibson: .466 in 1943

1. Josh Gibson: .974 in 1937

1. Josh Gibson: 1.474 in 1931

2. Charlie Smith: .451 in 1929

2. Mule Stuttles: .898 in 1927

2. Josh Gibson: 1.435 in 1943

3. Hugh Duffy: .440 in 1898

3. Josh Gibson: .871 in 1943

3. Barry Bonds: 1.421 in 2004

"Shortened Negro League schedules, interspersed with revenue-raising exhibition games, were born of MLB's exclusionary practices," John Thorn, MLB's official historian, said in a statement. "To deny the best Black players of the era their rightful place among all-time leaders would be a double penalty."

Gibson played for three Negro League teams -- Memphis Red Sox, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Homestead Grays -- from 1930-46 and finished his career as a .372/.458/.718 hitter with 166 home runs in 602 games. He was a 12-time All-Star and is widely considered one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game.

"This is a historical moment for the game of baseball as these great players will forever be recognized within Major League Baseball's official record books. Congratulations to all these great players, especially Pittsburgh's own Josh Gibson," Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said in a statement. "The Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays are an important part of the rich history of baseball in Pittsburgh. The Pirates have long celebrated these great teams and players such as Josh Gibson, Ray Brown, Oscar Charleston, Buck Leonard and so many others for their tremendous accomplishments. Whether it is in our Pirates Hall of Fame, the large baseballs on the riverwalk, the Crawfords and Grays Championship banners, the many other displays throughout PNC Park, or the support of educational displays and programs within our community, we are proud to continue to share the stories of these great players for generations to come."

In 1972, Gibson became the second Negro Leagues player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Satchel Paige. Paige was inducted in 1971. Including managers and executives, there are 37 Negro Leaguers in the Hall of Fame.

"When you hear Josh Gibson's name now, it's not just that he was the greatest player in the Negro Leagues, but one of the greatest of all time. These aren't just Negro League stats. They're major-league baseball stats," Sean Gibson, Josh's great-grandson,told USA Today. "This means so much for not only the Josh Gibson family, but representing the 2,300 men in the Negro Leagues who didn't get the opportunity to play (in MLB)."

Kenesaw Mountain Landis' name was stripped from the MVP trophy in 2020 after several Hall of Famers, including Barry Larkin and Mike Schmidt, voiced their discomfort. Landis, baseball's first commissioner, played a role in keeping baseball segregated during his time as commissioner from 1920-44. Gibson's family hopes the MVP award will be renamed in his honor.

"How ironic would it be for Josh Gibson to replace the man who denied more than 2,300 men the opportunity to play baseball in the major leagues,"Sean Gibson told USA Today. "I'm hoping with these stats that we can change it to the Josh Gibson MVP award. These stats make a great case for it to be named in his honor."

The Negro Leagues existed out of necessity, of course, stemming from MLB's racist and exclusionary practices that barred Black players from competing in integrated leagues for more than 50 years.

MLB celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues during the 2020 season, with a league-wide celebration taking place on Aug. 16.

MLB adds Negro Leagues stats to record books, making Josh Gibson all-time leader in batting average, more (2024)


MLB adds Negro Leagues stats to record books, making Josh Gibson all-time leader in batting average, more? ›

MLB incorporates Negro Leagues statistics, shakes up record books. NEW YORK -- Josh Gibson became Major League Baseball's career leader with a . 372 batting average, surpassing Ty Cobb's . 367, when Negro Leagues records for more than 2,300 players were incorporated Tuesday after a three-year research project.

Are Negro league stats added to MLB? ›

Major League Baseball has officially added players' stats from the Negro Leagues to its historical record, a move that allows Black players' contributions to be credited alongside their white counterparts.

How many home runs did Josh Gibson hit in the Negro Leagues? ›

Josh Gibson
Negro leagues statistics
Batting average.372
Home runs174
20 more rows

What was Josh Gibson known for? ›

For almost a century, Negro Leagues baseball player and power hitter Josh Gibson was called the Black Babe Ruth. But now, perhaps all baseball fans should refer to the Babe as the white Josh Gibson!

Was the most powerful and prolific hitter in all of the Negro Leagues? ›

The legendary Josh Gibson is widely considered the greatest power hitter in Negro Leagues history, launching prodigious blasts that earned him the nickname “the Black Babe Ruth.” But there was another great slugger behind him in the Homestead Grays' lineup, hitting cleanup and being dubbed “the Black Lou Gehrig.”

Who was the best player in the Negro Leagues? ›

Oscar Charleston (1976)

Maybe the Negro Leagues' biggest all-around talent who drew comparisons to Major League stars like Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, Charleston was the Negro National League's first true superstar when the league began play in 1920.

Does MLB recognize Negro League? ›

Following the 2020 announcement that seven different Negro Leagues from 1920-1948 would be recognized as Major Leagues, MLB announced Wednesday that it has followed the recommendations of the independent Negro League Statistical Review Committee in absorbing the available Negro Leagues numbers into the official ...

Is Josh Gibson a Hall of Famer? ›

On Feb. 8, 1972, the nine-man Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues elected Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard into the Hall of Fame. This made them the second and third Negro League players, behind Satchel Paige the year before, to be elected.

Who was the first black baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates? ›

Major League Baseball recognizes Curt Roberts as the Pirates' first black player; however, Carlos Bernier of Puerto Rico, also a black man, debuted on April 22, 1953. 2.

Did Josh Gibson make it to the MLB? ›

Gibson never played in Major League Baseball. He died on January 20th, 1947 at 35 years old. Three months after his passing, Jackie Robinson would become the first man to break the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Who was the 1 black baseball player? ›

Sixty-three years before Jackie Robinson became the first African American in the modern era to play in a Major League Baseball game, Moses Fleetwood Walker debuted in the league on May 1, 1884, with the Toledo Blue Stockings in a 5-1 loss against the Louisville Eclipse.

Who is the greatest hitter that ever lived? ›

During his remarkable career with the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams earned many nicknames – The Kid, The Splendid Splinter and Teddy Ballgame, but the only nickname that he wanted was “the greatest hitter who ever lived.” In that pursuit, he combined his preternatural gifts with a fierce work ethic to become widely ...

Who was the best shortstop in the Negro League? ›

Generally considered to be one of the top shortstops in Negro League history, Pop Lloyd enjoyed a 25-year career in which he regularly batted well over . 300.

Why is the Negro baseball league important? ›

The NLBM's story began with the founding of the Negro Leagues in 1920, a pivotal moment in sports and cultural history. Founded by Andrew “Rube” Foster, a former player, manager, and executive, these leagues offered a haven for African American and Hispanic players during an era of segregation in Major League Baseball.

Did the Negro Leagues have baseball cards? ›

Although cards were created post-Negro League play as reprints, while the Negro National League was actually happening, cards were never created for players. In America, that is. "They just didn't exist," Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said years ago.

How many Negro League players are in the baseball Hall of Fame? ›

The National Baseball Hall of Fame includes 37 members who were inducted largely or entirely based on their careers in the Negro Leagues. But there are also other stars who got their start in the Negro Leagues before going on to achieve greatness in the integrated Majors.

When did the MLB Negro League end? ›

The Negro American League was the only "major" Negro league operating in 1949. Within two years it had been reduced to minor league caliber and it played its last game in 1958. The last All-Star game was held in 1962, and by 1966 the Indianapolis Clowns were the last Negro league team still playing.

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