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MLB adding Negro Leagues stats to official records

Tue May 28 11:18pm ET
Field Level Media

Catcher Josh Gibson is now officially one of the major leagues' all-time greats, as multiple media outlets reported Tuesday that Major League Baseball has incorporated Negro Leagues statistics into its records.

Gibson, who spent nine of his 14 Negro Leagues seasons with the Homestead Grays, will now be the all-time leader in batting average (.372), passing Ty Cobb (.367).

New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth also will be taking a step back in a pair of statistical categories because of Gibson. Gibson now has the best slugging percentage (.718) and OPS (1.177) ever, topping Ruth's marks of .690 and 1.164.

Over 2,300 Negro League players now have their stats in the MLB record books thanks to three years of research.

"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," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "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."

Back in 1969, there was a special committee focused on baseball records that determined six major leagues should garner recognition, with the earliest of those, the National, starting in 1876.

The committee also chose to acknowledge the American Association (1882-91), the Union Association (1884), the Players' League (1890), the American (1901) and the Federal League (1914-15). The National Association (1871-75) was excluded.

It wasn't until December 2020 that MLB decided it would be "correcting a longtime oversight" by incorporating the Negro Leagues into its records. A 17-person committee featuring Negro Leagues experts and statisticians then got to work.

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