MLB reclassifies Negro Leagues as major league

Major League Baseball has reclassified the Negro Leagues as a major league and will count the statistics and records of its 3,400 players as part of its history.

MLB said Wednesday it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history” by elevating the Negro Leagues on the centennial of its founding.

The Negro Leagues consisted of seven leagues, and MLB will include records from those circuits between 1920 and 1948. The Negro Leagues began to dissolve one year after Jackie Robinson became MLB’s first Black player with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Those leagues were excluded in 1969 when the Special Committee on Baseball Records identified six official “major leagues” dating to 1876.

“It is MLB’s view that the Committee’s 1969 omission of the Negro Leagues from consideration was clearly an error that demands today’s designation,” MLB said in a statement.

MLB said it considered input from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group, and studies by other baseball authors and researchers.

The league will work with the Elias Sports Bureau to review Negro Leagues statistics and records and figure out how to incorporate them into MLB’s history.

“All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game’s best players, innovations and triumphs against a backdrop of injustice,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record.”

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, also praised Wednesday’s announcement.

“The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is thrilled to see this well-deserved recognition of the Negro Leagues. In the minds of baseball fans worldwide, this serves as historical validation for those who had been shunned from the Major Leagues and had the foresight and courage to create their own league that helped change the game and our country too,” Kendrick said in a statement. “This acknowledgement is a meritorious nod to the courageous owners and players who helped build this exceptional enterprise and shines a welcomed spotlight on the immense talent that called the Negro Leagues home.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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