Major League Baseball (MLB) made a huge announcement in December that it admitted was long overdue. Last year, the MLB said that it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history by officially elevating the Negro Leagues to ‘Major League’ status.” It was a long time coming. While the MLB has said that the Negro Leagues, an association of all African American baseball leagues, have been a major contributor towards the success of the MLB, it has never officially acknowledged that the Negro Leagues were a part of the Major Leagues. Some of the most well-known MLB players, such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Jackie Robinson, played in the Negro Leagues before they signed on to play with major league baseball teams. While it took one hundred years (2020 was the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues) for the MLB to officially acknowledge the Negro Leagues as a part of the major leagues, they’re wasting no time to right some of their wrongs. How? One way is figuring out a way to incorporate player stats into the MLB history books. It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s more to be done. If you’re unfamiliar with the Negro Leagues, here are five interesting facts about the organization.
1. The three main Negro Leagues were the Negro National League, the Eastern Colored League, and the Negro American League.
2. The Negro Leagues were active from the 1920s through the 1940s.
3. Rube Foster is known as the “The Father of Black Baseball.” He founded the Negro National League and was a Hall of Fame pitcher, manager, and entrepreneur.
4. In 1946, Jackie Robinson became the first player from the Negro Leagues to sign with a Major League Baseball team. He played in the minor leagues in 1946 and then made his debut as an MLB player for the Dodgers in 1947.
5. The Negro Leagues ended in the late 1940s as more players signed with Major League Baseball teams. While the Negro Leagues tried different ways to entice their fans to stay (some tried integrating white players and female players), they simply couldn’t compete with Major League Baseball. Fans continued to follow their favorite players, such as Jackie Robison, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, all of whom began playing in MLB in the late 1940s and 1950s.