top of page

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

Negro League Records Incorporation Shakes Up MLB Record Books

Negro Leagues, Major League, MLB, Josh Gibson

In 1996 the movie Soul of the Game was released, depicting snapshots of the legendary careers of Satchel Paige (Delroy Lindo), Josh Gibson (Mykelti Willamson), and a young Jackie Robinson (Blair Underwood). The film touches on life for Negro League baseball players, inequality and racism, and breaking barriers.

Gibson at one point states that if he had played his career in the segregated MLB, instead of for the Homestead Grays, he would have broken every record that exists. He may have had a point. His power was legendary, and thanks to the fact that there were no televised games, it's become a myth. 77 years after his death, and 76 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Josh Gibson finally broke one of Babe Ruth's records.


With the assistance of Seamheads, Retrosheet, the Elias Sports Bureau, and the independent Negro League Statistical Review Committee, Major League Baseball has finally incorporated the statistics of the Negro League into their own record books. This is a project that has been in the works since 2020 when the MLB recognized Negro League teams as Major League Baseball teams.

The inclusion of the statistics from those leagues has shaken up the MLB record books. For the past 89 years, Babe Ruth has held the record for the highest career slugging percentage (.690) and the highest career OPS (1.164). Josh Gibson will now be baseball's all-time leader in both categories (.718 and 1.176 respectively). His .372 career batting average passes Ty Cobb to become a baseball record as well.

Negro Leagues, Major League, Paige, Gibson

In 1943, Gibson hit .466 for the Grays, and with the combining of the records, Gibson becomes the single-season batting champion in baseball history, passing Hugh Duffy, who hit .440 in 1894. It's possible, that much like his quote from the film, had the leagues been integrated from the start, the Hall of Fame catcher would in fact hold every hitting record.

Gibson isn't the only one getting recognized in the new record book. Chicago American Giants pitcher Dave Brown went 59-21 in his career for a winning percentage of .738. This is the new official record. He also moves into eighth all-time in career ERA (2.24). Homestead Grays right-hander Ray Brown went 117-43 (.731) and takes second place. Spud Chandler drops to third and Clayton Kershaw to fourth.

In 1944, Satchel Paige, pitching for the Kansas City Monarchs posted an ERA of 1.01 in 16 starts. This places Paige in third place all-time for the lowest ERA in a season. Pedro Martinez was otherworldly in 2000, recording a WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) of 0.74. That record now belongs to George Walker of the Monarchs for his 1940 WHIP of 0.73.

Negro League, Major League, Josh Gibson

There's No Intelligent Argument Against This

There are some who will feel the addition of the new statistics is unfair and will argue against the merging of the league's stats. They only have a racist leg to stand on. After all, to claim the records of an all-black baseball league shouldn't supersede the records of an all-white baseball league is something straight out of Mississippi Burning.

The merging of these numbers brings some semblance of justice to a league, even if this move by Major League Baseball is over 100 years too late. If only the bigots hadn't been running the show from the start, these new record books would be merely a glimpse of what could have been. MLB did the right thing here, but they should still feel ashamed that they didn't do it until 2024.

Read More MLB News From Stadium Rant Here: MLB News


Order your favorite whiskey or spirit for the big game right to your doorstep and use code STADIUMRANT10 for a 10% discount at Caskers

Use code STADIUMRANT20 for a 20% discount at Bulletproof Coffee, SwingJuice and Performix

If you love to shotgun beers, use code STADIUMRANT10 at Wild Man Drinking Company.


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to our newsletter here. Check out Stadium Rant Original shows on our Youtube channel and subscribe! Give our socials Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok a follow for more great content!


bottom of page