The MLB announced Wednesday morning that seven separate black leagues would receive official “major league” status, a long-awaited correction tied to the leagues that have produced some of baseball’s greatest Hall of Famers.
As part of the announcement, MLB announced that “the statistics and records of these players will be part of Major League Baseball history.” It remains to be seen how this will be sorted out, but players who played in both organizations will get a bump in their official stats.
Here are five players who spent at least two years playing in the Black Leagues before playing in the American League or National League in the years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
Here’s what their combined major league stats look like now. All statistics for the Negro League are taken from the Seamheads Negro League Database, the site specifically mentioned in the MLB press release as the driving force behind this decision. The numbers we used are for Negro League matches, not matches against Latin or other leagues.
Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1973
Should know: Irvin made his Negro Leagues debut in 1938 at the age of 19 and quickly became one of the Newark Eagles’ top players, beating .371 in 1940, .395 in 1941 and .412 in 1942. He was 30 when he did his MLB. debuted for the Giants – joining the club on the same day as Hank Thompson in 1949 – and quickly became a National League star. Irvin was third in the NL MVP race in 1951 and was an All-Star in 1952.
Negro Leagues statistics: 286 G, 1189 PA, .335 medium 214 strokes, 51 2B, 13 3B, 41 HR, 259 RBI, 26 SB
Statistics of the National League: 764 G, 2893 PA, .293 avg, 366 strokes, 97 2B, 31 3B, 99 HR, 443 RBI, 28 SB
Combined statistics of major leagues: 1050 G, 4082 PA, .305 average, 580 strokes, 148 2B, 44 3B, 140 HR, 702 RBI, 54 SB
Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1998
Should know: As you can see from the numbers, Doby was quite a hitter during his three seasons in the Negro National League, and he was only 23 when he broke the color barrier in the American League in making his debut with the Cleveland Indians in July 1947. Doby hit .301 in his first full season with Cleveland and was on the All-Star team for seven years in a row, from 1949 to 1951.
Negro Leagues statistics: 144 G, 642 PA, .327 average, 125 strokes, 35 2B, 18 3B, 21 HR, 130 RBI, 20 SB
American League statistics: 1533 G, 6302 PA, .283 avg, 960 strokes, 243 2B, 52 3B, 253 HR, 970 RBI, 47 SB
Combined statistics of major leagues: 1677 G, 6944 PA, .287 Average, 1085 Strokes, 278 2B, 70 3B, 274 HR, 1100 RBI, 67 SB
Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1971
Should know: The biggest pitcher to come through his prime in the pre-integration era was two days after his 42nd birthday when he made his debut as Doby’s teammate at the Cleveland club. That didn’t stop him from being an effective reliever until the 1953 season, when he was 47. And Paige came back for a game with the Kansas City Athletics – he played for the Kansas City Monarchs in his prime – in 1965, when he was 59. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, and even struck out a batter.
Negro Leagues statistics: 265 G, 1.521 IP, 2.36 ERA, 112-60, 1235 H, 22 HR, 344 BB, 1469 K
American League statistics: 179 G, 476 IP, 3.29 ERA, 28-31, 429 H, 29 HR, 180 BB, 288 K
Combined statistics of major leagues: 444 G, 1,997 IP, 2,58 ERA, 1,664 H, 51 HR, 524 BB, 1,757 K
Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1969
Should know: The great Campy made his debut in the National Black League in 1937, when he was just 15 years old. He won three National League MVP awards and was on the NL All-Star team for eight consecutive seasons and helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to the 1955 World Series title. In January 1958, however, Campanella was in a car accident and the injuries he sustained left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was 36 at the time of the incident.
Negro Leagues statistics: 225 G, 868 PA, .323 avg, 150 strokes, 44 2B, 12 3B, 19 HR, 171 RBI
Statistics of the National League: 1215 G, 4816 PA, .276 avg, 627 strokes, 178 2B, 18 3B, 242 HR, 856 RBI
Combined statistics of major leagues: 1440 G, 5684 PA, .284 avg, 777 strokes, 222 2B, 30 3B, 261 HR, 1027 RBI
Elected to the Hall of Fame: Not yet
Should know: Perhaps this long overdue move is what brings Miñoso into the Cooperstown, NY Hall of Fame. His career spanned decades, in the plural, and the numbers in bold / italics – indicating the cutting edge statistics of the league – are all on its Baseball-Reference page. How many players led a league in stolen bases (three times) AND total bases (once)?
Negro Leagues statistics: 120 G, 550 PA, .314 avg, 94 strokes, 32 2B, 12 3B, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 11 SB
American League statistics: 1835 G, 7713 PA, .298 average, 1136 strokes, 336 2B, 83 3B, 186 HR, 1023 RBI, 205 SB
Combined statistics of major leagues: 1955 G, 8263 PA, .300 average, 1230 passes, 368 2B, 95 3B, 195 HR, 1093 RBI, 216 SB