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Correction of 'Longtime Oversight' Shakes Up MLB Records

Negro Leagues have been reclassified as major league
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2020 4:28 PM CST
Correction of 'Longtime Oversight' Shakes Up MLB Records
Houston Astros third base coach Gary Pettis and manager Dusty Baker Jr. look up into the stands at photo cutouts of former Negro League players before a game against the Seattle Mariners.   (Kevin M. Cox/The Galveston County Daily News via AP, File)

(Newser) – Willie Mays will add some hits to his record, Monte Irvin's big league batting average should climb over .300 and Satchel Paige may add nearly 150 victories to his total. Josh Gibson, the greatest of all Negro League sluggers, might just wind up with a major league record, too. The statistics and records of greats like Gibson, Paige, and roughly 3,400 other players are set to join Major League Baseball's books after MLB announced Wednesday it is reclassifying the Negro Leagues as a major league, the AP reports. MLB said Wednesday it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game's history” by elevating the Negro Leagues on the centennial of its founding. The Negro Leagues consisted of seven leagues, and MLB will include records from those circuits between 1920-48.

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“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," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. The Negro Leagues were excluded in 1969 when the Special Committee on Baseball Records identified six official "major leagues" dating to 1876. The league will now work with the Elias Sports Bureau to review Negro Leagues statistics and records and figure out how to incorporate them into MLB’s history. While some have estimated Gibson slugged over 800 homers during 16 Negro League seasons, it's unlikely that enough records exist for him to officially pass Barry Bonds for the career record at 762. Depending on what Elias and MLB rule, though, Gibson could wind up with another notable record. His .441 batting average in 1943 would be the best season mark ever, edging Hugh Duffy's .440 from 1894.

(Read more Major League Baseball stories.)

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