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).
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).