NewsMLB Has New Stat Kings After Integration Of Negro Leagues Statistics

MLB Has New Stat Kings After Integration Of Negro Leagues Statistics

Arguably the biggest beneficiary of the reshuffled statistical records is Josh Gibson, considered by many baseball scholars and historians to be the greatest hitter to ever pick up a baseball bat.

As The Athletic reported, John Thorn, the MLB’s official historian, believes that the time is right, particularly because the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants are scheduled to play a game at a historic Negro Leagues stadium, Rickwood Field, in June. Thorn also estimated that around 75% of Negro Leagues box scores have been added, and as more are tallied, the numbers will update accordingly. 

Considering how dominant the stars from the Negro Leagues were in barnstorming and when some were able to cross to the majors, including one that was 42 years old, it’s not unreasonable to believe that this is how it would’ve played out regardless in a world without segregation. https://t.co/4E6HzbY2Hm— Luke Epplin (@LukeEpplin) May 29, 2024

Larry Lester, a Negro Leagues researcher and author who served on the committee responsible for collecting the statistics, told the outlet that the move might make some people uncomfortable.

“People will be, I don’t know if upset is the word, but they may be uncomfortable with some Negro League stars now on the leaderboards for career and seasons. Diehards may not accept the stats, but that’s OK. I welcome the conversations at the bar or the barbershop or the pool hall. That’s why we do what we do.”

Lester also explained why barnstorming games, or games the Negro Leagues teams typically played against Major League competition or local teams in rapid succession, would not count toward the statistics. 

“For example, the Kansas City Monarchs travel to Chicago, and once they get into town, they play as many games as possible,” Lester said. “So instead of a three-game series, they play five — and on the way there, they might stop in Moline and play the local team to pick up some change.”

Gibson’s great-grandson, Sean Gibson, told USA Today that it’s important not only to their family but to the many Black baseball players who never got an opportunity to showcase their talent on an integrated baseball diamond.

— Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (@NLBMuseumKC) May 17, 2024

Lester also told The Athletic that though some baseball purists may be upset at the inclusion of the Negro Leagues players, one thing they could not deny was the work and the numbers. 

Lester continued, responding to several potential criticisms. Decades back, Lester said, he was told “that African-Americans were apathetic about recording baseball history.” Lester told The Athletic that it was a point of pride to prove that stereotype false and to bring the names of Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Bullet Rogan, and others into the light as he did it. 

Lester added, “Critics will say, ‘Well, (Gibson) only played against other Black teams.’ Well, Babe Ruth never hit a home run off a Black pitcher, and Josh Gibson never hit a home run off a white pitcher. So I guess my point is, the amount of melanin or the lack thereof does not indicate the greatness of a ballplayer.”

RELATED CONTENT: ‘MLB The Show ‘ Presents Negro Leagues Collector’s Edition For PlayStation

Source: Black Enterprise

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