MLB will integrate Negro Leagues statistics into record books & new leaders emerge

Starting Wednesday, Major League Baseball will have a new record holder in several single-season and career categories.

Legend and Hall of Famer Josh Gibson will take the top spot on lists such as single-season batting average (.466 in 1943) and slugging percentage (.974 in 1937) — and become the career leader in both — as Negro Leagues statistics become part of the Major League Baseball historical records.

The Negro Leagues were officially elevated to MLB status in 2020. Some 2,300 people played in the Negro Leagues from 1920-1948, including the famed Kansas City Monarchs.

“We are proud that the official historical record now includes the players of the Negro Leagues,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement to Yahoo! Sports. “This initiative is focused on ensuring that future generations of fans have access to the statistics and milestones of all those who made the Negro Leagues possible. Their accomplishments on the field will be a gateway to broader learning about this triumph in American history and the path that led to Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Dodger debut.”

A Negro Leagues Statistical Review Committee went through box scores to determine league games. Statistics from barnstorming or exhibition games weren’t counted toward MLB totals.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, will share his thoughts at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s a big day,” he said.

Gibson was a power-hitting catcher who played for the Memphis Red Sox, Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays from 1930-1946. His teams won two Negro Leagues World Series. He was a 12-time All-Star and won triple crowns in 1936 and 1937.

Gibson’s .372 career batting average will top Ty Cobb’s .366. His lifetime slugging percentage of .718 will surpass Babe Ruth’s .690.

Negro League players who played in the majors, including Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson, will have their Negro League statistics updated.