MLB grants "major" status to Negro Leagues
The Negro Leagues have been elevated to "major" status by MLB, righting a wrong that's long overdue, but no less welcome.
Why it matters: Their statistics and records — kept separate from MLB's for half a century like the players who produced them — will finally take their rightful place in Major League history.
The backdrop: The Negro Leagues — comprised of seven distinct leagues lasting from 1920 to 1948 — were not some low-level circuit comprised of inferior players, but rather supremely talented Black and Hispanic players who were barred from the segregated American and National Leagues.
- In 1969, the all-white, five-man body known as the Special Baseball Records Committee met to discuss which leagues should earn major league status.
- They decided on four fledgling leagues (in addition to the AL and NL). The Negro Leagues' candidacy therein was never even discussed.
The big picture: The highly irregular 2020 season — which, of course, still counted as a "major league" — made it harder to defend the exclusion of the Negro League on account of scheduling quirks or inconsistent formats.
- Add in the season-long celebration of the Negro Leagues' centennial, plus a summer filled with the most passionate fight against racial injustice in a generation, and the league finally did the right thing.
The last word: While this change is welcome to the few living Negro Leaguers and the families of those that have long since passed, there was never any doubt among those players that they belonged.
"They didn't need the validation. They knew how good they were. They knew their league was as professional as any. But for history's sake, this is significant."— Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum