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What happens to record book, now that Negro Leagues have been given Major League status?

It was a long time coming to give the Negro Leagues a well-deserved distinction

Josh Gibson, catcher for the Negro League Homestead Grays, is approaching first base as he runs out a ground ball in Griffith Stadium circa 1940 in Washington, D.C. (Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics) (Getty Images)

There are few things more hallowed in sports than iconic records set by players in baseball, and the announcement on Dec. 16 that the Negro Leagues would be given Major League status retroactively should no doubt have an impact on some of those records.

But exactly which records, and how long it will take to figure that out is uncertain at the moment, according to MLB.com.

Historians are going to have to sift through countless box scores in updating the record books, but there are some educated guesses as to what could be affected.

Here are some records that are likely to be altered, according to MLB.com.

  • Single-season batting average leader. As of now, the record for highest batting average in a single season belongs to Hugh Duffy, who hit .440 in 1894. But arguably the greatest player in the history of the Negro Leagues, Josh Gibson, hit .466 in 1943 for the Homestead Grays. Gibson might end up climbing to the top of that list.
  • Career batting average. The three players with the best career batting averages are Ty Cobb (.367), Rogers Hornsby (.358) and Joe Jackson (.356). However, Gibson might end up being No. 2 on that list behind Cobb with his career .361 batting average.
  • On-base plus slugging percentage. Once again, this is a list that Gibson could crack. With a minimum of 3,000 plate appearances, the leaders in this category all-time are Babe Ruth (206), Ted Williams (191), Barry Bonds (182), Lou Gehrig (179) and Mike Trout. Gibson had a career OPS+ of 200, which would put him second on the list.
  • Alterations of no-hitters. There 24 known no-hitters from the Negro Leagues, according to author Dirk Lammers, which would raise the all-time total from 305 to 329.
  • Numerous players who played in both the Negro Leagues from 1920-48 and the Major Leagues will have their stats padded. For example, Roy Campanella could go from 856 career RBI to 1,027. Satchel Paige might go from a 28-31 record with a career ERA of 3.29 to a 140-91 record with a career ERA of 2.58.

It should be noted that despite the greatness of Gibson and other Negro League players, it doesn’t appear as if any of them will be near the top of the list for home runs in a season or home runs in a career.


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