Home NewsroomSports NewsBaseball MLB Elevates Negro Leagues to ‘Major League’ Status, Giving ‘Overdue Recognition’ to 3,400 Players

MLB Elevates Negro Leagues to ‘Major League’ Status, Giving ‘Overdue Recognition’ to 3,400 Players

by Gary Cunningham
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Originally written for CBS Sports by R.J. Anderson.

n Wednesday, Major League Baseball officially elevated the Negro Leagues to “Major League” status. Commissioner Rob Manfred described the maneuver as “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history.” Heading forward, MLB will recognize the “statistics and records” of approximately 3,400 players who partook in the seven leagues between 1920-48.

Here’s more, courtesy of MLB‘s press release:

This long overdue recognition is the product of evaluation throughout this year, which included consideration of: discussions with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and other baseball entities; the previous and ongoing studies of baseball authors and researchers; the 2006 study by the National Baseball Hall of Fame (the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group); and an overall historical record that has expanded in recent years.  In particular, MLB commends the work of Gary Ashwill, Scott Simkus, Mike Lynch, and Kevin Johnson, who drove the construction of the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database, and Larry Lester, whose decades-long research underlies and adds to their work.  MLB credits all of the baseball research community for discovering additional facts, statistics, and context that exceed the criteria used by the Special Committee on Baseball Records in 1969 to identify six “Major Leagues” since 1876.  It is MLB’s view that the Committee’s 1969 omission of the Negro Leagues from consideration was clearly an error that demands today’s designation. 

MLB’s press release names the following leagues as those being elevated: the Negro National League (I) (1920–1931); the Eastern Colored League (1923–1928); the American Negro League (1929); the East-West League (1932); the Negro Southern League (1932); the Negro National League (II) (1933–1948); and the Negro American League (1937–1948).

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

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.

Originally written for CBS Sports by R.J. Anderson.

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