In a long overdue move, Major League Baseball on Wednesday announced that the league will officially recognize the Negro Leagues as a major leagues.
As part of the decision, all statistics and records from thousands of Black players who played in nine different Negro Leagues will be entered into the record books.
Addressing what MLB described as a “long overdue recognition,” commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday bestowed Major League status upon seven professional Negro Leagues that operated between 1920 and 1948. The decision means that the approximately 3,400 players of the Negro Leagues during this time period are officially considered Major Leaguers, with their stats and records becoming a part of Major League history.
“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,” Manfred said in a statement on the MLB website. “We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record.”
As part of the decision, MLB and the Elias Sports Bureau – MLB’s official statistician – have begun a review process to determine the full scope of the designation’s effect on records and statistics. Historians and other experts will be consulted as part of that process.
The Negro Leagues’ status change was applauded by Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick.
“For historical merit, it is extraordinarily important,” Kendrick said. “Having been around so many of the Negro League players, they never looked to Major League Baseball to validate them. But for fans and for historical sake, this is significant, it really is. So we are extremely pleased with this announcement. And for us, it does give additional credence to how significant the Negro Leagues were, both on and off the field.”
More information can be found on the Negro Leagues at the MLB’s dedicated history page.