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Major league baseball history is changing and it is for the better.

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

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Major Baseball announcement

Announced Wednesday, December 16, 2020, Major League Baseball reclassified the Negro leagues from 1920-1948 as Major Leagues. In a statement released on Wednesday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, "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. We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record."

This is a move that has been a long time coming. We all know about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. We have heard about the exploits of Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell. But How many remember that Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and the seemingly immortal Minnie Minoso played in the Negro Leagues?

For baseball to take this action now rights the wrong done to the Negro Leagues in 1969. In 1969 a special committee on baseball records set the six recognized Major Leagues dating back to 1876. Those six leagues were: The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (National League) 1876-present; American Association 1882-1891; Union Association 1894; The Players League 1890; The Federal League 1914-1915; and the American League 1901-present.

Major League Baseball has officially recognized the Negro Leagues as major league teams — 100 years after their creation. The seven leagues, which played from 1920 to 1948, will have their stats and records added to MLB history. Those 7 leagues are Negro National League(I) (1920–1931); the Eastern Colored League (1923–1928); the American Negro League (1929); the East-West League (1932); the Negro Southern League (1932); the Negro National League (II) (1933–1948); and the Negro American League (1937–1948).

Baseball history

The history of baseball OR what we thought was the history of baseball has gotten murky. For years growing up, we were told that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball in 1839.

*The term baseball and a description of the game were outlined in a popular book in England called the Little Pretty Pocket-Book in 1744. This was 75 years before Doubleday was born(1819)! There are also references to the Prince of Wales playing Bass-Ball in Surrey, England, in 1749. There are also references to playing a base in 1778 at Valley Forge. In 1825, an upstate New York newspaper editor wrote of the Rochester baseball club, which had 50 members at practices in the 1820s. There were claims that American baseball is a variation of the English game of Rounders.

* Rounders was described in the book The Boys Own Book in 1828; "As described there, rounders had many resemblances to the modern game of baseball: It was played on a diamond-shaped infield with a base at each corner, the fourth being that at which the batter originally stood and to which he had to advance to score a run. When a batter hit a pitched ball through or over the infield, he could run. A ball hit elsewhere was foul, and he could not run. Three missed strikes at the ball meant the batter was out. A batted ball caught on the fly put the batter out. One notable difference from baseball was that, in rounders, when a ball hit on the ground was fielded, the fielder put the runner out by hitting him with the thrown ball; the same was true with a runner caught off base. Illustrations show flat stones used as bases and a second catcher behind the first, perhaps to catch foul balls. The descent of baseball from rounders seems indisputably clear-cut."

* In 1845, it is believed that a man named Alexander J. Cartwright. (An amateur player in the New York area). He was said to have founded the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club, which formulated rules for the game. "The rules were much like those for rounders, but with a significant change in that the runner was put out not by being hit with the thrown ball but by being tagged with it."

As a consequence, this eventually led to two separate games. Up until 1845, the ball was larger and softer than the ball of today. Cartwright's version led to a smaller, harder ball. Cartwright's version of the game was not universally accepted until 1860. They were referred to as the Massachusetts game (the softball) and the New York game (a harder ball).

A revision of the Rules in the New York game came about in 1854. Three years later, The National Association of Base Ball Players was organized. The growth and popularity continued during the Civil War, and in 1865, a convention was called which 91 teams. Also, in this time frame is when slaves started to pick up the game and excel. In 1855 there was an abbreviated game between Two all-black teams, and by 1860 there were several all-black clubs in the New York area. After the Civil War in 1867, the Amateur Base Ball Players Association rejected the ANY Negro applicant's membership. Nine years later, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs formed to keep Base Ball a white man's game.

However, that did not stop African Americans from playing. Players like catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884, Walker played for the Toledo Blue Stockings. He was the first African American to play in a major league at that time.

However, Walker, like other African Americans, faced outright hostility and physical intimidation. This did cause some negro players to move north to the International league encompassing New York, New Jersey, and South East Canada. There was a team of African American players in 1885 called the Cuban Giants they formed under the pretense of being dark-skinned Latin players. They lasted quite a while traveling all over the East. Winning 118 out of 154 games in 1895. In 1887 the International League followed the Suit of other "professional Leagues" and banned Negro players from participating.

By about 1900, all integration by black players in Professional baseball was effectively ended. Although segregated Negro players continued to practice their craft, playing mostly in Northern cities. They traveled around playing any team that they could to play—the first "Colored Championship of the World" featuring the Cuban X-Giants vs. the Philadelphia Giants. The game was won by the Cuban X-Giants behind the pitching of Rube Foster. In 1906 the integrated International League of Independent Baseball were formed but barely lasted a season. The Integrated International League of Independent Baseball was formed in 1910 but never played a single game.

Rube Foster gets it started.

Rube Foster founded the Negro National League in 1920. It launched with eight teams: Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs, and the St. Louis Giants. the success of this league spurred the formation of the Eastern Colored League in 1923, the two leagues formed the Worlds Colored Championship in 1924 it lasted until 1927. Extended success proved to be unsteady players moved from team to team. In 1928 the Eastern Colored League folded and reformed as the American Negro League in 1929; it lasted one season. The Depression created a lot of troubles for the Negro Leagues. The Negro National League folded in 1931. By 1932 the East-West League and the Negro Southern League formed and lasted a year.

^"In 1933, Pittsburgh Crawfords owner and numbers kingpin Gus Greenlee restarted the Negro National League. That year he introduced the East-West All-Star Game in Chicago, which became the sport’s biggest annual event, attracting more than 50,000 fans at its peak."

The league made inroads, and in 1937 the Negro American League was formed. The two leagues enjoyed a good run until the early to mid-forties when Major league baseball could no longer ignore the popularity and talent in the Negro Leagues(over an estimated 3 million fans watched Negro League baseball in 1942).

Despite the Segregationist attitude of then Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the Chicago White Sox granted Olympic athlete Jackie Robinson and another Negro League player Nate Moreland. After Judge Landis died in 1944 a year later(1945), spurred by the media, the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox gave tryouts to Negro League players Robinson included. However, Branch Ricky had already been scouting Negro League players. In late 1945, the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson after a year in Montreal's minors; the color barrier was broken in 1947. Later that year, Larry Doby joined the Cleveland Indians Following him, Hank Thompson and William Brown joined the St Louis Browns, and Dan Bankhead became the second black player to join the Dodgers. (Baseball would be fully integrated by 1959).

The National Negro League folded in 1948, and The Negro American League held on until 1960. Still, with many stars jumping to Major league baseball, they resorted to integrating with attempts to sign White players, and women three women actually played in the League. Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, Connie Morgan and Toni Stone. Even country singer Superstar Charlie Pride played for the Negro leagues and the minor leagues from 1953 and 1960.

What does it mean for baseball?

What it means that some records will fall, and some player stats will change. Josh Gibson will likely become the single-season Batting Average leader with a .441, edging out Hugh Duffy's .440 in 1894. Ted Williams would no longer be the last .400 hitter .406 in 1941. That would go to Artie Wilson .431 in 1948. Satchel Paige will likely gain over 120 more victories. It may also mean that Jackie Robinson would no longer be the FIRST black player in Major League baseball. He will still be known as the First black player in the National League, and Larry Doby will still be the First Black player in the American League. It will be a process to incorporate the over 3,400 players and their stats. It will be well worth the effort to give these players the recognition they deserve.

Thanks for reading. Please drop me a comment.

by 1900 there were many





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