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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

MLB Is Finally Recognizing the Negro Leagues as the Major Leagues They Always Were

On August 29, 1973, 42-year-old Met Willie Mays smacked a fifth-inning single to left off Padres southpaw Rich Troedson, driving in Bud Harrelson from second to put the Mets ahead 2-0. That hit, the last Mays ever recorded during the regular season, raised his career total to 3,283. That mark has stood ever since, undisturbed except for the passage of the few players who’ve subsequently hurdled him on the all-time leaderboard, where he ranks 12th.

Soon, though, that career count will climb slightly higher. Before he debuted for the New York Giants in 1951, Mays played for the 1948 Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. The fleet center fielder’s hits—17 of which have been documented, although seven of those came during the NAL Championship Series—helped propel that team to a pennant, but they aren’t represented in Mays’s major league résumé. More than 70 years later, The Ringer can report that Major League Baseball is belatedly designating the Negro Leagues as major leagues and adjusting its records accordingly. Mays is one of a multitude of Black or Hispanic players whose performances in the seven leagues collectively called the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1948—a period during which thousands of Black players were barred from joining the segregated National and American Leagues—will finally be afforded the designation they deserve…

In response to an inquiry from The Ringer earlier this year, the league began exploring the possibility of reclassification, as we reported in August. Later today, the league will officially announce the results of that effort and proceed with plans to assign the same major league status enjoyed by the AL and the NL to the Negro Leagues—and, in the cases of players like Mays who played in the Negro Leagues between 1920 and 1948 and later joined the AL or NL, integrate records produced in segregated leagues.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 10:59 AM | 113 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. EddieA Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:24 AM (#5994469)
incomplete records make this exercise interesting
   2. AndrewJ Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:26 AM (#5994470)
Epic.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:34 AM (#5994471)
I'm all for recognizing the Negro Leagues, but adding the two stats together seems really weird. Willie Mays had 660 HR for almost 50 years, I don't think that should change.
   4. DL from MN Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:13 PM (#5994479)
adding the two stats together seems really weird


It doesn't really move the leaderboards because the Negro Leaguers have way fewer at-bats per documented season. For example, Cool Papa Bell and Oscar Charleston were the top base stealers in the NGL but they will barely make the top 100 all-time on the combined leaderboard. I don't think anyone goes over 3000 hits, 300 wins or 500 HR because of the merger. Joe Williams only had 156 wins.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:27 PM (#5994481)
It doesn't really move the leaderboards because the Negro Leaguers have way fewer at-bats per documented season.

I mean adding Negro League stats to the career totals of MLB stars who also played a bit in the NegLs, like is mentioned for Mays in the article.
   6. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5994487)
Willie Mays had 660 HR for almost 50 years, I don't think that should change.


That part won't, since BB-ref shows that Willie did not homer in 61 AB for Birmingham in 1948. But you never know if someone will find stats for him for 1949.

BBref doesn't have the stats but his SABR bio says in 1949 he hit .311 in 75 games, and hit .330 with a .547 SLG in 1950 before signing with the Giants in June and going to the minors. So I would presume there are some homers in there.

Seamheads doesn't have that data either, at least for now.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:54 PM (#5994489)

I'm all for recognizing the Negro Leagues, but adding the two stats together seems really weird. Willie Mays had 660 HR for almost 50 years, I don't think that should change.


Why not? They changed Hack Wilson's 1930 RBI total 70 years later, why wouldn't we want a more accurate total?
   8. Rob_Wood Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:15 PM (#5994493)
Hank Aaron has a chance to overtake Barry Bonds?
   9. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:17 PM (#5994494)
Were the Negro Leagues a comparable level of play of the NL and AL from 1920 to 1948?
   10. homerwannabee Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:22 PM (#5994495)
If ABA stats are mixed with NBA stats, then the Negro Leagues stats being mixed should be a no brainer.
   11. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:23 PM (#5994496)
Looks like it might not be enough for Hank. From SABR bio:

"On November 20, 1951, despite his mother’s concerns about his not continuing on to college, Henry signed a $200/month contract with the Negro American League champion Indianapolis Clowns. Scout Bunny Downs had discovered Aaron playing with the Black Bears during an earlier exhibition, and once with Indianapolis Aaron flourished, helping guide the team to the 1952 Negro League World Series crown. In 26 games that year he posted a .366 batting average, hit five home runs, and stole nine bases."

When was the 1952 Negro League World Series? This would have to have been before he signed with the Braves, right? Aaron signed in June 1952 and played 87 games in the class C Northern League.

Did they play a winter/spring schedule and then a world series in May? Or did Hank start the season with the team, left for the Braves, and they went on to the WS after he left?
   12. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:25 PM (#5994497)
FTFA:

Because the cutoff is set at 1948, the newly expanded major league corpus won’t include some historically significant features, such as the home runs Hank Aaron hit for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1952 or the stats of Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, and Connie Morgan, the three women who played for Indianapolis in 1953 and 1954. And because Negro Leagues seasons were shorter than those of the AL and NL, this decision won’t rewrite any prominent career records. But it will force fans to reframe the way they think about certain careers and accomplishments—and, in the process, could encourage them to devote more attention to long-overlooked leagues.
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:26 PM (#5994498)
Why not? They changed Hack Wilson's 1930 RBI total 70 years later, why wouldn't we want a more accurate total?

It's not more or less accurate, it's different.
   14. Mefisto Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5994500)
I'm not sure I understand the reasoning for the cut-off. It's not as if black ballplayers could freely join MLB in 1949 or 50. Most of us could probably name the few blacks in MLB in those years off the top of our heads. Is it because the level of competition in the NeL declined?
   15. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:41 PM (#5994501)
I can see good reasons to have strong reservations about integrating the record books. Having segregated leagues was a great historical wrong, and one that cannot be put right. Trying to correct a wrong by integrating the records is not going to make anything better.

Satchel Paige won 28 MLB games, and 146 NLB games according to BBref. You could have the records show he won 174 games, just like Ken Holtzman and Camilio Pascual. But putting him into a tie for 180th place in wins does a disservice to his career. Had he been White and been active the same years, he would probably have won over 400 games. But you can't credit him as such in a record book, it just looks like you're making up numbers.

I'm all for greater recognition of the Negro League players, but having the best of their lot rank 300th in the combined leader boards is not a good way to do it.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:50 PM (#5994503)
I can see good reasons to have strong reservations about integrating the record books. Having segregated leagues was a great historical wrong, and one that cannot be put right. Trying to correct a wrong by integrating the records is not going to make anything better.

Satchel Paige won 28 MLB games, and 146 NLB games according to BBref. You could have the records show he won 174 games, just like Ken Holtzman and Camilio Pascual. But putting him into a tie for 180th place in wins does a disservice to his career. Had he been White and been active the same years, he would probably have won over 400 games. But you can't credit him as such in a record book, it just looks like you're making up numbers.

I'm all for greater recognition of the Negro League players, but having the best of their lot rank 300th in the combined leader boards is not a good way to do it.


Well put.
   17. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:53 PM (#5994504)
Hank Aaron has a chance to overtake Barry Bonds?
Josh Gibson says hi.
   18. DL from MN Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5994506)
Hank Aaron has a chance to overtake Barry Bonds?


No. Aaron played for the Clowns in 1952 which is not part of this.
   19. winnipegwhip Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:00 PM (#5994507)
Because the cutoff is set at 1948, the newly expanded major league corpus won’t include some historically significant features, such as the home runs Hank Aaron hit for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1952 or the stats of Toni Stone,


I would love to see them go past 1948. It could set a precedent getting Meadowlark Lemon, Goose Tatum and all to completely change the NBA record books.
   20. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5994509)
What is the effect of this? Is it just the graphic that goes up on any media controlled by MLB? It seems obvious that they don't own the stats, and I don't think a decision like this should be any more influential than MLBs conventions regarding the NA or UA.
   21. DL from MN Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5994511)
I'm not sure I understand the reasoning for the cut-off.


The Negro National League folded after the 1948 season. Most of the top talent was signed by MLB teams by then.

This will add 8 years to Roy Campanella's totals (252 H) and 10 for Monte Irvin (351 H).
   22. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:13 PM (#5994512)
But you never know if someone will find stats for him for 1949.


Hank Aaron has a chance to overtake Barry Bonds?


From the article, MLB is recognizing the Negro Leagues as major leagues from 1920 through 1948. Hank Aaron therefore never played in a "major" Negro league and Willie Mays was technically playing in the "minor leagues" in 1949 - which is an admittedly weird thing - Mays was a major-leaguer in 1948, then not again until 1951. Of course, Jackie Robinson was an All-Star in the Negro American League in 1945, then played in the white minor leagues in 1946 (and led the league in batting) before getting "back" to the majors.

Incidentally, the Negro National League folded after the 1948 season and that was the last season in which a Negro World Series was played, which is why Negro League experts tend to view 1948 as the last "major-league" season.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:13 PM (#5994513)

Hank Aaron has a chance to overtake Barry Bonds?
Josh Gibson says hi.


Mike Petriello has been fielding a lot of questions about changes, and he says that a lot of Gibson's HR (200+) came outside of league play.

Gibson would, however, be the last .400 hitter, hitting .441 in 1943.
   24. DL from MN Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:15 PM (#5994514)
https://www.milb.com/milb/news/minors-sparkled-with-new-stars-in-1949-303390000

The Minor Leagues finally opened the door for black players during that history-making 1946 season, but it was in 1949 that the door was completely knocked down. That year, an unprecedented wave of previously excluded athletes made its presence felt at Triple-A stadiums throughout the country.
   25. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:23 PM (#5994516)
Were the Negro Leagues a comparable level of play of the NL and AL from 1920 to 1948?


Probably not. Certainly there were Negro Leaguers who would have been stars in an integrated NL or AL and teams who would have been pennant contenders in the same. But the Federal League wasn't as good as the American League and National League of those times, the 1911 AL almost certainly wasn't as good as the 1969 AL, and, for that matter, the AL of the 1950s wasn't as good as the NL of the 1950s. I don't think "comparable level of play" can be too strict a standard for determining what should count in the historical major-league record. And by the 1940s, I'm not sure they were really all that different in talent level anyway - before that, a lot of the issue is that not all of the best players and best teams were in the formal Negro Leagues.
   26. Rob_Wood Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:29 PM (#5994517)
Kiko,

Do you know how this announcement will "affect" Retrosheet in any way?
   27. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:51 PM (#5994519)
Do you know how this announcement will "affect" Retrosheet in any way?


Retrosheet already started working on expanding to include pre-integration Negro baseball. I'm leading up that effort and we are tentatively planning to release something next month. That "something" is actually going to be pretty limited - All-Star games, Negro championship series, and some interracial barnstorming games. We've talked to the Seamheads folks and others and Larry Lester suggested at one point that he was interested in sharing all of the box scores he's created with us - he says that would be about 18,000 box scores which would basically be everything that Seamheads has(*). We haven't really gotten into any more detail with him. I'm hoping that this announcement and our initial release, when it happens, will spur some action on that front.

I would say that the long-run goal is to integrate the Negro and white statistics as much as possible - so, if you go to, say the 1927 season, there will be four leagues (AL, NL, NNL, ECL, not necessarily in that order). There is a concern among Negro baseball researchers that having different websites report different Negro League statistics could do more harm than good in terms of creating public acceptance of these statistics: Larry Lester, Scott Simkus, and Gary Ashwill have all said variations of this to me; and I would generally agree. So, Retrosheet still needs to think through how we deal with that. My tentative thought is that Retrosheet back away from providing season- and career-level statistics and just focus on providing game-level data. But I'm not sure exactly what that would entail and I'm not sure if other people agree with me on that.

(*) - Seamheads has very extensive statistical records but they're all at the season/stint/career level. My understanding is that their data are built up from box scores but I'm not aware that the actual box scores themselves are available on their website.
   28. homerwannabee Posted: December 16, 2020 at 03:46 PM (#5994527)
Just a thought, but it would be interesting that in the year 2074 or so MLB were to recognize Japan league stats from 2000 and before, and Ichiro becomes the all time hits leader.
Yeah, I know, a pipe dream now, but I fully expect a different culture in 2074 or so.
   29. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 16, 2020 at 04:08 PM (#5994532)
Just a thought, but it would be interesting that in the year 2074 or so MLB were to recognize Japan league stats from 2000 and before, and Ichiro becomes the all time hits leader.
Yeah, I know, a pipe dream now, but I fully expect a different culture in 2074 or so.


The path that this decision re: the Negro Leagues sets up very clearly leads outside of the U.S. and Canada next. To fully appreciate Josh Gibson's baseball career requires not just appreciating his performance for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays but also the time he spent playing against high-quality competition in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. I'm not sure it takes a full 50 years to get from Mexico to Japan.

In fact, once you start to realize that one can't appreciate the full careers of not just pre-integration Negroes but, honestly, also a lot of pre-integration white players without looking at barnstorming, that gets you to Japan pretty directly.
   30. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 16, 2020 at 04:17 PM (#5994535)
If we look at professional baseball as a whole, Julio Franco is a 4000-hit guy.
   31. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 16, 2020 at 04:36 PM (#5994543)
Rally's #15 is really good.

There is a concern among Negro baseball researchers that having different websites report different Negro League statistics could do more harm than good in terms of creating public acceptance of these statistics

Gibson hitting .441 in 1943 was mentioned a couple times, so I open up Josh Gibson's BBREF page, which says he hit .486, rather than .441, in 1943. Who should I believe?

And I also see that the greatest HR hitter ever has 113 recorded HR.


   32. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 05:15 PM (#5994557)
Another viewpoint:

MLB elevating the status of Negro Leagues is the problem, not the solution.



Of all the nonsense that the most duplicitously conservative sports league in the history of the United States of America has ever pulled, this might be the most ridiculous piece of soft supremacy we’ve ever seen. This announcement says: Be grateful, we now view you as whole. News flash: That’s the problem. Not the solution.
   33. . Posted: December 16, 2020 at 06:35 PM (#5994569)
Rally's #15 is really good.


Thirded. The more and more I think about this idea, the less and less I like it.

Of all the nonsense that the most duplicitously conservative sports league in the history of the United States of America has ever pulled, this might be the most ridiculous piece of soft supremacy we’ve ever seen. This announcement says: Be grateful, we now view you as whole. News flash: That’s the problem. Not the solution.


Said this in the other thread. Underlying premise is that the white league has the authority to denominate other leagues "major" and thus "bring" those other leagues "up to the level" of the white league. White league is the Sun, other leagues orbit around it and have meaning only in reference to it. Couldn't be any more "white supremacist."

No reason to believe the Negro Leagues weren't the real "major" leagues and the white league a lesser league. If you resegregated things today in the NBA and NFL, any idea that the white league would be the "major" one is comical. No real reason to think something like that wouldn't have ported to back then and even if it's unclear, the proper conclusion is that neither was major in relation to the other.
   34. JRVJ Posted: December 16, 2020 at 08:11 PM (#5994583)
Really like 15's, so I guess I am fourthing it.
   35. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 17, 2020 at 10:01 AM (#5994627)
Were the Negro Leagues a comparable level of play of the NL and AL from 1920 to 1948?


The more you look at it, the more obvious it is that the very best NeL players were just as good, if not better, than the best MLB players. But top-to-bottom, the Negro Leagues were not comparable to the major leagues, just like the high minors (including the "Open" PCL of the early 50s) were not major leagues, and the Japanese and Mexican Leagues were not major leagues, and the AAGPBL was not a major league.

Sheer weight of numbers. How can a league drawn from 15% of the population be comparable to one that draws from 85%? It can't.
   36. . Posted: December 17, 2020 at 10:44 AM (#5994633)
Sheer weight of numbers. How can a league drawn from 15% of the population be comparable to one that draws from 85%? It can't.


Except the counterfactual 2020 "Negro Football League" would be better than the "Whitebread Football League" and the same would be said for basketball. The top "WFL" cornerback wouldn't even be a starter in the "NFL." (I'm pretty sure there are no white starting CBs in the National Football League.)
   37. DL from MN Posted: December 17, 2020 at 10:47 AM (#5994634)
The American League of 1944 was clearly not as good as the National League of 1954 but we don't say the 1944 AL was a minor league.

Underlying premise is that the white league has the authority


So they're damned if they do and damned if they don't? MLB is no longer a "white league" and hasn't been for many years. This is what the league can do now to help correct a past error. They can't go back in time and correct the error earlier.
   38. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 17, 2020 at 10:57 AM (#5994635)
Certainly there were Negro Leaguers who would have been stars in an integrated NL or AL and teams who would have been pennant contenders in the same. But the Federal League wasn't as good as the American League and National League of those times, the 1911 AL almost certainly wasn't as good as the 1969 AL, and, for that matter, the AL of the 1950s wasn't as good as the NL of the 1950s. I don't think "comparable level of play" can be too strict a standard for determining what should count in the historical major-league record. And by the 1940s, I'm not sure they were really all that different in talent level anyway - before that, a lot of the issue is that not all of the best players and best teams were in the formal Negro Leagues.

Bingo. Anyone who doesn't think that the Negro Leagues were up to MLB in terms of talent is free to make his own mental adjustments to the newly incorporated statistics, just as those of us who realize the joke quality of much of MLB in the Jim Crow era are fully cognizant that comparing the numbers of that earlier era to the numbers of today is little more than an interesting exercise that raises more questions than it answers about what those numbers really mean.
   39. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:01 AM (#5994637)
I find it helpful to think about the Negro Leagues as similar to the Major Leagues, but 30 or 40 years before. So when you think about what the original 1920 NNL was like, it was more like the 1885 NL or AA than the 1920 NL/AL. Less organized, shorter rosters, poorer talent funnels, everything less formal in general. Top talent was still top talent, but the bottom of the roster was generally far, far below the top talent compared to modern teams. Much more precarious financial situations too, for teams and players. Contract jumping, teams folding.

I am with #15, this doesn't really fix the issue at play here. And the downside is if it convinces some folks that it has.
   40. . Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5994642)
This is what the league can do now to help correct a past error.


It makes the past error worse, because it's still riddled with and premised upon underlying white supremacy.

So they're damned if they do and damned if they don't?


They wouldn't be damned in the present if they'd just left it alone. It can't be fixed and this action makes it worse.

Much more precarious financial situations too, for teams and players. Contract jumping, teams folding.


None of that stuff matters to the underlying quality, anymore than the same thing happening in the 1974-76 ABA matters to the obvious underlying quality there. All the recordkeeping stuff, the scheduling, finances, the teams folding and not playing complete schedules, etc. is the quintessential example of the tail wagging the dog.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:22 AM (#5994644)
Except the counterfactual 2020 "Negro Football League" would be better than the "Whitebread Football League" and the same would be said for basketball. The top "WFL" cornerback wouldn't even be a starter in the "NFL." (I'm pretty sure there are no white starting CBs in the National Football League.)

That might well not be true in this alternative segregated universe. Unless you're making an argument based on racial superiority.
   42. DL from MN Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:25 AM (#5994647)
It can't be fixed and this action makes it worse.


I disagree. It can't be fixed and this action makes it slightly better going forward.
   43. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:28 AM (#5994648)

The American League of 1944 was clearly not as good as the National League of 1954 but we don't say the 1944 AL was a minor league.


And correct me if I'm wrong, but the NBA recognizes ABA stats and the NFL recognizes AFL stats, even though those were likely inferior leagues. Heck, MLB recognizes the Federal League as "Major league", which seemed rather far from being on the same level as the NL.
   44. . Posted: December 17, 2020 at 11:39 AM (#5994649)
Unless you're making an argument based on racial superiority.


I'm making an argument that you can't judge the relative quality based on the relative pool.
   45. JRVJ Posted: December 17, 2020 at 01:46 PM (#5994671)
39 makes a good point.

Regardless of whether you think of the Negro Leagues as Major Leagues or not, they were unfortunately not playing with the same deck as the AL or NL. That, inevitably, must have impacted the quality of the baseball that was played (even if it's clear that the top talent was good or better than the top of MLB's talent).
   46. Ron J Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:10 PM (#5994695)
#37 But we also don't accept war years stats at face value (even before adjusting for the fact that it was segregated)
   47. gef, talking mongoose & suburban housewife Posted: December 17, 2020 at 03:41 PM (#5994706)
The NBA does not, AFAIK, recognize ABA numbers. Otherwise, Julius Erving's points total would show up as 30,026, as opposed to falling short of 20,000.
   48. . Posted: December 17, 2020 at 04:35 PM (#5994738)
Correct, the NBA officially does not. Julius Erving officially scored 18,364 points -- not the 30,000 he actually scored. By the last two years of the ABA, there's little doubt the competition he faced was equal to or better than the competition he would have faced in the NBA. If you put the 1976 Nets and 1976 Nuggets in the 1976 NBA playoffs, they very well could have faced each other in the finals. It probably would have been Warriors-Nuggets in the WCF; Nets-Celtics in the ECF.
   49. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 17, 2020 at 06:16 PM (#5994759)
Except the counterfactual 2020 "Negro Football League" would be better than the "Whitebread Football League" and the same would be said for basketball. The top "WFL" cornerback wouldn't even be a starter in the "NFL." (I'm pretty sure there are no white starting CBs in the National Football League.)

That might well not be true in this alternative segregated universe. Unless you're making an argument based on racial superiority.

I'm making an argument that you can't judge the relative quality based on the relative pool.


Except...until about 1950, pro baseball pretty much got all the good athletes, black and white -- the NFL didn't get much respect, the NBA was brand-new, and the NHL was almost completely Canadian. Since there weren't a lot of athletes playing other pro sports (except maybe boxing) during the Negro League era, we have to assume that the pool of white American athletes was larger and deeper than the pool of black American athletes. Again, the very best NeL players could play with anybody, including MLB All-Stars. But top-to-bottom, the major leagues were superior to any other baseball league, anywhere.
   50. DL from MN Posted: December 17, 2020 at 06:41 PM (#5994764)
#37 But we also don't accept war years stats at face value (even before adjusting for the fact that it was segregated)


The MLB record books certainly count war year statistics at face value. Hal Newhouser has 207 wins, not 197.2
   51. BDC Posted: December 17, 2020 at 07:03 PM (#5994767)
Since there weren't a lot of athletes playing other pro sports (except maybe boxing) during the Negro League era, we have to assume that the pool of white American athletes was larger and deeper than the pool of black American athletes


A possible rebuttal to that is that quite a few white American athletes had more lucrative options outside of playing baseball. Somebody like Frank Baker could afford to skip a couple of seasons mid-career for various reasons because he was financially secure, for instance. Black Americans may have had few other options as good, so a higher percentage of good athletes among them played pro baseball. Maybe.

The rebuttal to that is how many white baseball players had long minor-league careers before, after, and during their major-league time – some were set with outside opportunities, but a lot weren't.
   52. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 07:58 PM (#5994780)
Satchel Paige won 28 MLB games, and 146 NLB games according to BBref. You could have the records show he won 174 games, just like Ken Holtzman and Camilio Pascual. But putting him into a tie for 180th place in wins does a disservice to his career.


Well he's currently at 28 wins, so I presume that does a disservice as well. So I dont get your pt here. You're premising this most of your argument here on the basis that they can't honor Paige in this way, but I dont think the purpose of this approach is to honor him, per se. It might be a side effect, but that's certainly not the express purpose.

So I dont get you're argument on this pt. Some of the other ideas I get.
   53. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 07:59 PM (#5994782)
Satchel Paige won 28 MLB games, and 146 NLB games according to BBref. You could have the records show he won 174 games, just like Ken Holtzman and Camilio Pascual. But putting him into a tie for 180th place in wins does a disservice to his career.


Well he's currently at 28 wins, so I presume that does a disservice as well. So I dont get your pt here. You're premising this most of your argument here on the basis that they can't honor Paige in this way, but I dont think the purpose of this approach is to honor him, per se. It might be a side effect, but that's certainly not the express purpose.

So I dont get you're argument on this pt. Some of the other ideas I get.
   54. Walt Davis Posted: December 17, 2020 at 08:19 PM (#5994788)
#52 ... The argument is that he has 28 MLB wins but everybody knows that's not a summary of his career. Making that 174 "official major-league wins" gives us an "official" number that also poorly summarizes his career (or at least poorly ranks his quality relative to others). If somehow the "official" number was 300 (or whatever) then that might be "fair."

Folks have touched on it but yes, it's not necessarily as simple as 85/15. Competing opportunities, rewards, etc. play into it; so does cultural ... fixation? New Zealand is the best male rugby union team in the world despite a population about the same as Cook County. That's in part because nearly every boy in NZ plays at least some rugby but also because it's very presitgious in NZ culture to be good at rugby. Even in other rugby-playing countries, it's not that popular, it's not particularly prestigious and some are more likely to play rugby league rather than union.

So, just theoretically, if nearly every elite male African-American athlete of the 30s played baseball while only about 1/5 of such white athletes did so, the talent pools would be about equal. I don't think that was the case, white athletes didn't have many great sporting options either, but it's at least theoretically possible (and not an era of sports history I have much knowledge in). Also if being a successful athlete/baseball player was a bigger deal in African-American culture than white culture, such men would have had extra incentive to play at their very best.
   55. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 17, 2020 at 08:59 PM (#5994798)
Satchel Paige won 28 MLB games, and 146 NLB games according to BBref. You could have the records show he won 174 games, just like Ken Holtzman and Camilio Pascual. But putting him into a tie for 180th place in wins does a disservice to his career.


Well he's currently at 28 wins, so I presume that does a disservice as well. So I dont get your pt here. You're premising this most of your argument here on the basis that they can't honor Paige in this way, but I dont think the purpose of this approach is to honor him, per se. It might be a side effect, but that's certainly not the express purpose.

So I dont get you're argument on this pt. Some of the other ideas I get.
   56. TJ Posted: December 17, 2020 at 10:14 PM (#5994807)
Correct, the NBA officially does not. Julius Erving officially scored 18,364 points -- not the 30,000 he actually scored. By the last two years of the ABA, there's little doubt the competition he faced was equal to or better than the competition he would have faced in the NBA. If you put the 1976 Nets and 1976 Nuggets in the 1976 NBA playoffs, they very well could have faced each other in the finals. It probably would have been Warriors-Nuggets in the WCF; Nets-Celtics in the ECF.


This thread has had me thinking of ABA players and how they are somewhat analogous to Negro League players. Before the merger with the NBA, most ABA stars who came to the NBA continued to be stars- guys like Connie Hawkins, Spencer Haywood, Charlie Scott, for example. Once the leagues merged, the best ABA players became among the best NBA players- Dr. J, Dan Issel, Artis Gilmore, Moses Malone, George Gervin, George McGinnis (before he got hurt and pudgy) and David Thompson (before the drugs took over) were as great as anyone the NBA had to offer. The next level of excellent ABA remained excellent in the NBA- guys like Maurice Lucas, Bobby Jones, Billy Paultz, Billy Knight and Ron Boone were as good as their excellent level NBA counterparts. It is that third level of talent where things began to change. Some ABA vets became solid role players or good backups (say Don Buse, Dave Twardzik, ML Carr, etc), but many only lasted a year or two in the NBA, if that. As for the lowest level of ABA talent, forget it- there was no room at the NBA inn for those guys. (Marvin Barnes and John Brisker were cases by themselves, as both were nuts).

I suspect something similar would have happened to Negro Leaguers. The best would have been great MLBers, the excellent would have remained excellent, some of the good would have hung in the league but most would have washed out, and the lowest level of talent wouldn’t have made a roster. The quality of competition faced by Negro Leaguers would have been greater if baseball was integrated just as the quality of competition faced by white players increased when Negro Leaguers did enter MLB. Acknowledging that the Negro League was a major league and that their players were major leaguers should be the focus, not on Where Josh Gibson should rank on the career home run list.Just accepting that Josh Gibson being the greatest power hitter in Negro League history makes him one of the greatest power hitters in the history of major league ball (which is more than just MLB history) is more important to me.
   57. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 18, 2020 at 07:11 AM (#5994823)
The biggest problem, I think, is that no NeL team ever played a meaningful game with a MLB team. Ever. Sure, they played for pride, but that and (cost of a cup of coffee*) will get you a cup of coffee. It would've been GREAT to see the MLB champions and the NeL champs meet in a real World Series...but it never happened, and there's no way to fix that now.

And, of course, nobody would be talking about this at all if not for BLM. Rewriting history by political diktat rarely ends well.

(*I don't drink the stuff, so I have no idea how much it costs? A dollar? More?)
   58. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 07:37 AM (#5994824)
#57. History is political. When it happened a major cause was political. When it was first written down and edited it was political. And every time it is revised it is political. The idea that it was pure and clean before this point, and just now politics has shown up, is farcical.

The truth is the same either way it is presented. You just like the prior politics.
   59. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 18, 2020 at 07:39 AM (#5994825)
The biggest problem, I think, is that no NeL team ever played a meaningful game with a MLB team.

But that works both ways. Babe Ruth never had a meaningful at-bat against Satchel Paige. Leon Day and Josh Gibson never got to pad their stats against the Browns, the Phillies and the Boston Braves. You don't have to acknowledge that the Negro Leagues were equal to MLB from top to bottom in order to appreciate what Manfred did. It's simply one small step to owning up to MLB's shameful past, and we can leave it at that.
   60. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 18, 2020 at 08:02 AM (#5994827)
#58. Your reasoning here seems similar to the reasoning the HOF tried to use to exclude Negro Leaguers from the Hall’s gallery. “The Negro Leaguers didn’t meet the Hall’s ten-year MLB tenure requirement, so we can’t include them.”

BTW: Speaking of the Coop, a nice secondary effect of MLB’s decision is that Negro Leaguers now have a clearly defined path through the era committees of the Hall. And that means that next year’s VC election includes them. Here’s hoping Cannonball Dick Redding’s case gets onto the final list. He occupies a space similar to being among the top quarter to top third of the Hall.
   61. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 18, 2020 at 08:10 AM (#5994828)
Actually, Redding’s case straddles the 1920 cutoff, so he may not be the best example. But Minnie Minoso should be helped considerably.
   62. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 18, 2020 at 09:29 AM (#5994834)
The idea that it was pure and clean before this point, and just now politics has shown up, is farcical.

Nobody's suggesting that. But MLB is trying to appease BLM (MLB backwards, ironically) by re-writing history to prove that they're not racist. It's too late, fellas. You want to give black folks some respect? Try letting them be owners and GMs. (Yes, I know that's harder than selling merch and taking the occasional knee, but...)

But that works both ways. Babe Ruth never had a meaningful at-bat against Satchel Paige.

But Babe Ruth played plenty of meaningful games, including World Series games. By "meaningful", I mean games that directly impacted on a big league pennant race/world championship, and no NeL game ever did. Yes, they should have. But, no, they didn't. Can't change that.

Negro Leaguers now have a clearly defined path through the era committees of the Hall. And that means that next year’s VC election includes them.

Great! There's a least a dozen NeL players who belong. (Get to work, guys!)
   63. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 18, 2020 at 09:46 AM (#5994835)
But that works both ways. Babe Ruth never had a meaningful at-bat against Satchel Paige.

But Babe Ruth played plenty of meaningful games, including World Series games. By "meaningful", I mean games that directly impacted on a big league pennant race/world championship, and no NeL game ever did. Yes, they should have. But, no, they didn't. Can't change that.


"Meaningful" can also denote the level of competition. Ruth not only didn't face the best of the Negro League pitchers, he also got to pad his stats against the stiffs who populated the rosters of the AL's tailenders.

And of course the Negro Leagues had their own World Series, so all you're doing here is defining "meaningful" in a way that only can incorporate the MLB version. Heads you win, tails they lose.
   64. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 09:54 AM (#5994838)
It's simply one small step to owning up to MLB's shameful past, and we can leave it at that.


Nope. Both this step and the shameful past proceeded from the same white supremacist premise. Manfred and MLB have no "recognition" to properly bestow on the Negro Leaguers, and the Negro Leagues and their players are in no need of "recognition" from Manfred and MLB. Their leagues and their players were fantastic operations in and of themselves, without any need of measurement against the "standard" set by white people.

"We now deign and condescend to bestow upon you recognition of your equality with our racist operation and its collaborators. Now you are full and complete?" I think not.
   65. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:04 AM (#5994840)
Nobody's suggesting that. But MLB is trying to appease BLM (MLB backwards, ironically) by re-writing history to prove that they're not racist. It's too late, fellas.


Well, you seem really good at this mind-reading of motivations thing. Here let me try. Before they did not include the Negro league as a sop to racists, and they have finally decided not to do that anymore and are including the stats.

Both ways can be presented as political. Exactly as I said. Screaming "politics" and "BLM" is not a good response for why not to make the change.
   66. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:04 AM (#5994841)
#58. Your reasoning here seems similar to the reasoning the HOF tried to use to exclude Negro Leaguers from the Hall’s gallery. “The Negro Leaguers didn’t meet the Hall’s ten-year MLB tenure requirement, so we can’t include them.”


Um, what?
   67. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5994846)
I own "Only The Ball Was White," which was written in 1970. There are a bunch of statistics and box scores and playoff game box scores and aggregate statistics at the back. Much work has been done in gathering even more information and statistics in the 50 years since, so much so that Strat-o-Matic, as fussy a bookkeeping and stats-purity-obsessed operation as you'll ever find, feels comfortable enough with their quality to create cards of Negro League players and teams. It's honestly hard to understand what MLB "recognition" of those things even means.

Rally's already said it better, but putting Satchel Paige into a list for posterity that makes him look like 25% of the pitcher he really was, without apparently any kind of asterisk or explanation, does him not a service but a disservice.
   68. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:31 AM (#5994848)
Nobody's suggesting that. But MLB is trying to appease BLM (MLB backwards, ironically) by re-writing history to prove that they're not racist. It's too late, fellas. You want to give black folks some respect? Try letting them be owners and GMs. (Yes, I know that's harder than selling merch and taking the occasional knee, but...)


The whole purpose of taking the knee to BLM and these utterly meaningless and superficial gestures is to keep the left from actually questioning and challenging their economic prerogatives and the economic arrangements that lead to them. The left as usual has been conned by it.
   69. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 11:00 AM (#5994854)
Howard Bryant, ESPN.com:

The Negro Leagues also contained a certain irreverent beauty in their independence from Major League Baseball. They didn't need baseball's validation to be special. There is magic in standing alone. Whether turning the worst parts of the pig into soul food, the worst urban conditions into a billion-dollar rap music industry or making an often itinerant baseball life into the iconic treasure that is the Negro Leagues, the beauty of Black people is in the ability to be unwanted and still create gold. No inclusion of "official statistics" or the imprimatur of baseball can ever compare to that.
   70. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 18, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5994856)
man, ignore the trolls.
   71. Booey Posted: December 18, 2020 at 11:38 AM (#5994865)
Rather than going in circles with RMc and ".", I'd highly recommend reading that Howard Bryant article. Lots of really good points that might make you question your initial support of this move.
   72. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 11:50 AM (#5994870)
I am actually ambivalent regarding the change. Fine either way honestly. I think the pro side and the anti side are radically overselling their case.

If I had to choose a route it would be to make the change because the harm done is minor and after having made the change and lived with it a while we can evaluate with more information if we like the change or not. It is not like tearing down a building, the change back- if needed - is low impact IMO.
   73. RJ in TO Posted: December 18, 2020 at 12:01 PM (#5994874)
man, ignore the trolls.
It would be very nice if, in at least one thread, people would take your advice.
   74. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 12:08 PM (#5994876)
I can offer personal testimony that it is, indeed, quite easy to ignore trolls.
   75. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2020 at 12:27 PM (#5994877)
No inclusion of "official statistics" or the imprimatur of baseball can ever compare to that.


No inclusion of official statistics can take that away either.
   76. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 18, 2020 at 12:42 PM (#5994884)
sorry for the triple posting. I am getting some horrible glitch where every time I hit the next page the screen goes blank. Same goes for logging in. I didnt even know my posts made it cause, I wasnt able to see them. Will try to post from the phone..Gee
   77. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 18, 2020 at 01:14 PM (#5994897)
Before they did not include the Negro league as a sop to racists

They didn't include them because it wouldn't even occur to them to do so, not so much a "sop to racists". While the NeL was active, nearly everybody -- owners, writers, fans -- believed that that league was inferior to MLB, as were the high minors and the foreign leagues. There were two major leagues, end of story. They were right to assume the NeL wasn't a major league, but of course wrong to assume blacks weren't good enough to play MLB in the first place. There's just no way to square that circle now; it's too late.

Actually, I don't really care if they include NeL stats among MLB stats; more info is better than less, I suppose. (Maybe this will spur more researchers into finding box scores, etc.?)
   78. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 18, 2020 at 01:23 PM (#5994899)
Actually, I don't really care if they include NeL stats among MLB stats; more info is better than less, I suppose. (Maybe this will spur more researchers into finding box scores, etc.?)

So then what's the problem?
   79. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: December 18, 2020 at 01:26 PM (#5994900)
But Minnie Minoso should be helped considerably.

This is the best reason to do this, imo. It's strange he hasn't gotten in yet. Being one of the best AL players in the '50s plus the pioneer credit should be more than enough.

I appreciate the point about Paige's new misleading career wins total, but even 100 years from now he's not going to be remembered by 174 career wins. He'll always be in the plaque room.

[72] puts it well. This is a nice little symbolic gesture from MLB, nothing more.
   80. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 18, 2020 at 01:34 PM (#5994903)
So then what's the problem?

The problem is that it's probably a bad idea being done for bad reasons. But it's not exactly a deal-breaker; we've got more important things to worry about, don't we?
   81. Lassus Posted: December 18, 2020 at 01:44 PM (#5994906)
So then what's the problem?

Liberals like it, ergo it's a bad idea.
   82. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 18, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5994912)
They didn't include them because it wouldn't even occur to them to do so, not so much a "sop to racists". While the NeL was active, nearly everybody -- owners, writers, fans -- believed that that league was inferior to MLB, as were the high minors and the foreign leagues. There were two major leagues, end of story. They were right to assume the NeL wasn't a major league, but of course wrong to assume blacks weren't good enough to play MLB in the first place. There's just no way to square that circle now; it's too late.


Way to 100% miss the point. Well done.
   83. DanG Posted: December 18, 2020 at 02:22 PM (#5994917)
I don't really care if they include NeL stats among MLB stats; more info is better than less, I suppose.
Who cares what stats MLB includes? Nobody goes there for stats anyway; everyone goes to Baseball-reference. And Sean will do what makes sense, meaning the Negro league stats will stay separate.
   84. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 18, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5994921)
And Sean will do what makes sense, meaning the Negro league stats will stay separate.


Sean Forman has suggested in other forums that he intends to treat the Negro leagues as "major leagues" - see here
   85. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2020 at 02:35 PM (#5994922)
Eddie Plank's Federal League stats are mixed right in with his AL stats

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/planked01.shtml

BTW - the ancestors of the players are happy with the decision

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnist/bob-nightengale/2020/12/17/negro-league-ancestors-rejoice-mlb/3944649001/

   86. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2020 at 03:11 PM (#5994929)
BTW - the ancestors of the players are happy with the decision
That's good. If the ancestors are happy, that means the crops will do well next year.
   87. Mefisto Posted: December 18, 2020 at 03:41 PM (#5994939)
A thought: Mays was 16 when the 1948 season began. Could he be the youngest player ever to get a hit?
   88. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 03:49 PM (#5994942)
Liberals like it, ergo it's a bad idea.


Wait ... so writing the reasons to have misgivings about this that are then essentially echoed by thoughtful black people with a high level knowledge in the space is ... "conservative"????? "Trolling"???? "Trumpist"????

What, exactly?
   89. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 18, 2020 at 03:51 PM (#5994943)
A thought: Mays was 16 when the 1948 season began. Could he be the youngest player ever to get a hit?


According to Seamheads, Roy Campanella got at least 3 hits in 1937 for the Washington Elite Giants of the Negro National League at the age of 15.
   90. Adam Starblind Posted: December 18, 2020 at 04:00 PM (#5994945)
#52 ... The argument is that he has 28 MLB wins but everybody knows that's not a summary of his career. Making that 174 "official major-league wins" gives us an "official" number that also poorly summarizes his career (or at least poorly ranks his quality relative to others). If somehow the "official" number was 300 (or whatever) then that might be "fair."


All of a sudden BBTF cares about pitchers' wins. LOL.
   91. Mefisto Posted: December 18, 2020 at 04:05 PM (#5994948)
That's impressive for Campanella. Cool.
   92. . Posted: December 18, 2020 at 04:29 PM (#5994957)
Josh Gibson's great-grandson and head of the Josh Gibson just popped up in The Undefeated advocating naming the MVP Trophy after Josh Gibson. I think I'm OK with that.
   93. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 18, 2020 at 04:45 PM (#5994960)
Re 82: Yeah, I know. Everybody's a damn racist except you. Next!

writing the reasons to have misgivings about this that are then essentially echoed by thoughtful black people with a high level knowledge in the space is ... "conservative"????? "Trolling"???? "Trumpist"????

As usual.
   94. Lassus Posted: December 18, 2020 at 10:16 PM (#5994985)
57. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 18, 2020 at 07:11 AM (#5994823)

And, of course, nobody would be talking about this at all if not for BLM.

I never said you were a troll. You're more of a one-note, unimaginative drone. As least SBB's Armond White aping is entertaining.
   95. AndrewJ Posted: December 19, 2020 at 09:07 AM (#5995007)
And, of course, nobody would be talking about this at all if not for BLM.

Um, no. Major League Baseball made a concerted effort, beginning in the early 2000s, to document Negro League stats as part of the Hall of Fame's mass 2006 Negro League induction; they enlisted a lot of help from SABR. This tome was another product. Two decades' worth of research was going to eventually culminate in something approaching Manfred's announcement this week, with or without Colin Kaepernick or BLM.
   96. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 19, 2020 at 09:57 AM (#5995014)
For several years, Baseball-Reference has included NA stats with the main record for the real old timers. That seems analogous to these stats.

I've never used The Baseball Cube much, but they have little check boxes at the top of a player's record so you can isolate college/minors/majors stats from each other. That's the sort of thing I'd like to see, to be able to incorporate major leagues, negro leagues, NA, PCL, NPB according to my whim.
   97. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 19, 2020 at 10:15 AM (#5995017)
Re 82: Yeah, I know. Everybody's a damn racist except you. Next!


No, you just missed the entire point of my point and now you are bitter. I get it, it is annoying missing the obvious. If you go back and reread it, it should become clear to you I was mocking your internet psychic abilities by playing internet psychic myself. Your attacking my psychic prediction was awesome and entertaining. Thank you.

However, it takes a special kind of idiot to believe that anything regarding the Negro Leagues wasn't touched by racism. The only reason it even existed and we are having this discussion today was because of racism. To blithely suggest racism played no role because - well sadly my internet psychic powers have failed me, but you clearly want to minimize even the thought of racism regarding the Negro Leagues.
   98. DL from MN Posted: December 19, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5995018)
That's good. If the ancestors are happy, that means the crops will do well next year.


You are correct. Descendants of the players are happy.
   99. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: December 19, 2020 at 10:58 AM (#5995020)
And, of course, nobody would be talking about this at all if not for BLM.
Apparently, someone only started reading recently. People have been talking about this for decades.
   100. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 19, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5995025)
Ted Williams was talking about it 36 years before he was frozen.
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