Posted on May 30, 2024

Negro Leagues’ Statistics Will Be Incorporated Into Major League Baseball’s Historical Records

Bob Nightengale, USA Today, May 28, 2024

Babe Ruth has long been considered the greatest player in baseball history, with arguments made for Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Barry Bonds and even Shohei Ohtani.

Well, there’s now a new player entering the debate: Hall of Fame catcher Josh Gibson.

Gibson, and all the former Negro League players, will have their statistics officially incorporated into Major League Baseball’s historical records..

It’s been 3 1/2 years since MLB officially elevated Negro Leagues’ statistics to ‘Major League’ status in December, 2020.

Gibson, who spent his entire career in the Negro Leagues from 1930, 1933-40 and 1942-46, will now be considered the greatest catcher of all-time, and arguably the best player of all-time, according to the official historical records after an independent committee reviewed them.

Gibson is MLB’s new all-time career leader in batting average (.372, moving ahead of Ty Cobb), slugging percentage (.718, moving ahead of Ruth), OPS (1.177, ahead of Ruth), and holds the all-time single season records in each of those categories.

“When you hear Josh Gibson’s name now, it’s not just that he was the greatest player in the Negro Leagues,’’ Sean Gibson, Gibson’s great grandson, told USA TODAY Sports, “but one of the greatest of all time. These aren’t just Negro League stats. They’re major-league baseball stats.


Major League Baseball wasn’t integrated until 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.


Now that these available new statistics validate Gibson’s greatness, Sean Gibson is hoping that the Baseball Writers Association names the league’s Most Valuable Player Awards in Gibson’s honor.

The MVP award used to be named after former MLB commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, but his name was stripped off the plaque in 2020 after former MVP winners Barry Larkin, Terry Pendleton and Mike Schmidt voiced their discomfort. Landis was MLB’s first commissioner from 1920 to 1944 and baseball was not integrated until three years after his death.

“How ironic would it be for Josh Gibson to replace the man who denied more than 2,300 men the opportunity to play baseball in the major leagues,’’ Sean Gibson said. “I’m hoping with these stats that we can change it to the Josh Gibson MVP award. These stats make a great case for it to be named in his honor.’’

The integrated statistics also enhance the numbers produced by several Hall of Famers who played in the Negro Leagues like Mays, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Monte Irvin, Roy Campanella, Willard Brown and Minnie Minoso.