Major League Baseball, in a move that was loooooooong overdue, has decided to recognize the Negro Leagues as a Major Baseball league.
Wow. MLB is officially recognizing the Negro Leagues as a Major League. MLB describes this as a "longtime oversight and the Negro Leagues now has its "long overdue recognition." pic.twitter.com/iyoD3zYVc2
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) December 16, 2020
Therefore, all of the statistics and records from the Negro Leagues will now be counted towards Major League records. The Negro Leagues were active from 1920-1948 after they were formed by Rube Foster. However, up until today, the league was counted as a semi-professional league rather than a major league.
Unfortunately, many of the great players from those times never got a chance to play in the Major Leagues. One of those great players was Josh Gibson. Gibson never had a chance to see Jackie Robinson make the Majors because he passed away before Robinson made his debut.
However, Gibson’s contribution to baseball needs to be recognized. Let’s get into it.
Official statistics for Negro League games are hard to find. They did not complete box scores or game summaries. However, the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues has conducted their own research. Based on that research, they found that Gibson hit 224 homeruns in 2,375 at bats. Also, he had a career batting average of .362, good for 3rd all-time in Negro League history. Gibson’s on-base percentage might be the most impressive. I understand it was a different era of baseball but his career .444 OBP is very impressive. He never had an OBP below .363 in his 16 Negro League seasons.
Petition for MVP Award’s
Currently, Major League Baseball’s MVP awards are named after the first commissioner of the MLB, Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Landis, a former judge, was tasked with bringing law and order to the MLB after the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. Landis did a lot of good for the MLB. However, not all of what Landis did was good. For example, he was responsible for baseball’s failure to integrate. This failure prevented players like Gibson and Satchel Paige from playing in the MLB. Landis served as commissioner from 1920-1944. It was not until 3-years after Landis passed away in 1944 that Jackie Robinson made his debut.
Currently, Sean Gibson, Josh Gibson’s great grandson, is leading a movement to have the MVP award renamed. There is a growing movement to have Landis’s name removed from the award (as it should be). Sean Gibson argues that it should be renamed after Negro League greats. They were unable to play in the MLB because of Landis. Some of the leading candidates to replace Landis include Branch Rickey, Frank Robinson, and Josh Gibson.
Gibson presents a convincing argument. Not only does he have the impressive statistics as discussed above, but he is also one of the greatest power hitters in baseball history. Including unofficial games (as opposed to official games as discussed above), Gibson has hit about 800 home runs in his career. Therefore, he would have been one of the best players in the MLB if he had been able. He should have been able to play alongside of greats like Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams. He would have been an all-star caliber player and would have likely won some MVP awards.
In conjunction with recognizing the Negro Leagues as a Major League, this would be an excellent gesture on behalf of the players who who were unable to play in the majors. Baseball needs to rectify this injustice and this is one way they can do that. Players like Gibson need to be recognized. There is so much baseball history that is unknown or became known too late. In conclusion, recognizing players like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige keeps the memory of those players alive and teaches the true history of baseball in America.
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-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)