Earlier this year, when Major League Baseball retroactively awarded the Negro League “official major league status”, thousands of players who were kept off the game’s main stage for no other reason than skin color were now officially – albeit in many cases, posthumously, ” major leagues.
And starting today, fans can dive into the career stats of players like Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Buck O’Neil and Satchel Page just as they would do all-time greats like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willy Mays and Babe Ruth or modern stars like Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr. or Fernando Tatis.
As of today, statistics for players from the Major Negro League teams from 1920-1948 will be available on Baseball-Reference.com, with these statistics also used to produce modern-day statistics such as OPS and WAR.
“Baseball Reference does not give a new status to these players or their achievements,” said Sean Foreman, president of Baseball-Reference.com’s parent company, Sports Reference Inc. “The Negro leagues have always been big leagues, and we’re changing our site’s presentation for to properly recognize this fact.
“The Negro leagues are no less than the American and national leagues; they are different, and our work recognizes this when we implement these changes. “
The addition of Negro League statistics is the culmination of several months of research and the collective efforts of a large number of people, including Negro League Baseball Museum Bob Kendrick, five-time MLB All-Star Adam Jones, journalists, historians, former Negro League players and their family members.
Among the family members who contributed to the process was Sean Gibson, great-grandson of the aforementioned Josh Gibson, who was considered one of the greatest hitters in the game’s history, but passed away just months before Robinson broke the baseball color barrier and began his Hall of Fame career.
Not only can fans now look up Gibson’s stats – including his biggest league, single-season record of 0.441, 238 career home runs and .648 career slugging percentage – they can also see where his numbers are compared to the game’s other legends, of which they most never got the chance to play against.
“For those with little or no knowledge of the Negro leagues and the time they took place, the story must be told,” said Gibson, executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation. “We know there is more research to be done as we build on the significant work that is in place, but we appreciate Sports Reference for being part of the process.”
The work is far from complete. Although a huge amount of data is now available, there is still a significant amount missing, mainly because registration at that time was varied and inconsistent, and because the teams played extensive schedules for child storming of games that were not part of their league plans.
But research continues, which means it is entirely possible that Gibson’s figures will be even more impressive.
“Society just fools (Negro League) down to Jackie Robinson and lets it go,” said Jones, who now plays for Orix Buffaloes in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. “There are players who did not have the chance to play in the American or National League during their careers … and many more who do not necessarily know about the careers of the Negro League to players like Larry Doby, Satchel Paige and Minnie Minoso. .
“That’s why it’s wonderful to have all this information available to everyone because that’s the story whole the game, not just part of it. ”
In addition to the stats, Baseball-Reference adds extra content to help fans of Negro League history. There will also be articles about the players, teams and leagues and the podcast called “The Negro Leagues are Major Leagues”, organized by sports historian Curtis Harris, launches with the updated website and will feature weekly guests during the summer.
Sports Reference will also hold two public webinars later this month. The first, set for June 22, will feature Foreman, Gary Ashwill of Seamheads.com and Tom Shieber, curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Negro Leagues Museum is hosted by Vice President Ray Doswell second session June 26.
“We are especially pleased that the number of legendary players is part of the official record,” said Kendrick. Undoubtedly, people will be more curious about the history of the players, and that is where we at the museum come in.
“Go to the baseball reference pages and learn a little about them. Then come to Kansas City and discover the extraordinary full story. ”
Negro leagues in baseball reference: baseball-reference.com/negro-lighte-are-major-lighte.shtml