MLB Recognizes Negro Leagues as part of Major Leagues

I’m not a baseball fan. I’ve seen a few games in my life. A couple of Mets night games at Shea in the late sixties, including one where I got to see Willie Mays play against them. Somewhere I still have a program from one of those games. A Reds game in Cincinnati in the eighties, I don’t remember who they played. A Cubs game with Jonah at Wrigley. First game of a double header but it was cold so we left, which was a pity because the second game was way more exciting, I think including a home run or two by Sammy Sosa. A couple of Orioles games in Camden Yards with the Ripken brothers (and their father coaching).

But baseball fan or not, I know that what happened today is a big deal. We’ve known forever that the Negro Leagues were as good as the majors. We know this because of what happened when pickup games happened between Negro Leagues and Major League players and we know it because of how the first Negro Leagues players to make it to the majors did in the majors.

What happened was that MLB commissioner Robert Manfred announced that Negro Leagues are now recognized as Major Leagues by Major League Baseball. What that means is that Negro League stats now count, which of course affect the player and team rankings.

One thing it means is that the aforementioned Mr. Mays is credited with seventeen more hits, because he played in the Negro Leagues before he played in the majors. Another thing it will mean is that Satchel Paige’s stats won’t have an asterisk. And, from what I read, it will probably mean that the 1931 Homestead Grays will probably be considered the greatest team in baseball history.

Took a while. Same week as the Cleveland Indians decided not to be the Cleveland Indians any more. Long arc of history and all that. Too long sometimes.