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Five baseball stars whose stats will significantly increase with recognition of Negro Leagues as a ‘major league’

MLB announced on Wednesday morning that seven distinct Negro Leagues will be given official “major league” status, a long-overdue correction related to the leagues that produced some of baseball’s greatest Hall of Famers. 

As part of that announcement, MLB announced that “the statistics and records of these players will become a part of Major League Baseball’s history.” Exactly how that will be sorted out remains to be seen, but players who played in both organizations will get a bump in their official statistics. 

MORE: Why “Indians” was supposed to be a temporary name for Cleveland’s baseball team

Here are five players who spent at least a couple of years playing in the Negro Leagues before starring in either the American League or National League in the years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. 

Here’s what their combined major league stats look like now. All Negro League statistics are taken from the Seamheads Negro League Database, the site specifically mentioned in MLB’s release as a driving force behind this decision. The numbers we’ve used are in Negro League games, not games against Latin leagues or other leagues. 

Monte Irvin

Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1973

Need to know: Irvin made his Negro Leagues debut in 1938 at 19 years old and very quickly became one of the best players on the Newark Eagles, batting .371 in 1940, .395 in 1941 and .412 in 1942. He was 30 when he made his MLB debut for the Giants — integrating the club the same day as Hank Thompson in 1949 — and quickly became a star in the National League, too. Irvin finished third in the NL MVP race in 1951 and was an All-Star in 1952. 

Negro Leagues stats: 286 G, 1,189 PA, .335 average 214 runs, 51 2B, 13 3B, 41 HR, 259 RBI, 26 SB
National League stats: 764 G, 2,893 PA, .293 average, 366 runs, 97 2B, 31 3B, 99 HR, 443 RBI, 28 SB
Combined major league stats: 1,050 G, 4,082 PA, .305 average, 580 runs, 148 2B, 44 3B, 140 HR, 702 RBI, 54 SB

Larry Doby

Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1998

Need to know: As you see from the numbers, Doby was one heck of a hitter in his three seasons in the Negro National League, and he was only 23 when he broke the color barrier in the American League by making his debut with the Cleveland Indians in July 1947. Doby hit .301 in his first full season with Cleveland and made the All-Star team seven years in a row, from 1949 to 1951. 

Negro Leagues stats: 144 G, 642 PA, .327 average, 125 runs, 35 2B, 18 3B, 21 HR, 130 RBI, 20 SB
American League stats: 1,533 G, 6,302 PA, .283 average, 960 runs, 243 2B, 52 3B, 253 HR, 970 RBI, 47 SB
Combined major league stats: 1,677 G, 6,944 PA, .287 average, 1,085 runs, 278 2B, 70 3B, 274 HR, 1,100 RBI, 67 SB

Satchel Paige

Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1971

Need to know: The greatest pitcher to spend his prime in the pre-integration era was two days past his 42nd birthday when he made debut as Doby’s teammate on the Cleveland club. That didn’t stop him from being an effective reliever until the 1953 season, when he was 47. And Paige came back for one game with the Kansas City Athletics — he starred for the Kansas City Monarchs in his prime — in 1965, when he was 59 years old. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and he even struck out one batter. 

Negro Leagues stats: 265 G, 1,521 IP, 2.36 ERA, 112-60, 1,235 H, 22 HR, 344 BB, 1,469 K
American League stats: 179 G, 476 IP, 3.29 ERA, 28-31, 429 H, 29 HR, 180 BB, 288 K
Combined major league stats: 444 G, 1,997 IP, 2,58 ERA, 1,664 H, 51 HR, 524 BB, 1,757 K

Roy Campanella

Elected to the Hall of Fame: 1969

Need to know: The great Campy made his debut in the Negro National League in 1937, when he was just 15 years old. He won three National League MVP awards and made the NL All-Star team eight consecutive seasons and helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to the 1955 World Series title. In January 1958, though, Campanella was in a car wreck and the injuries he suffered left him in a wheelchair the rest of his life. He was 36 at the time of the incident. 

Negro Leagues stats: 225 G, 868 PA, .323 average, 150 runs, 44 2B, 12 3B, 19 HR, 171 RBI
National League stats: 1,215 G, 4,816 PA, .276 average, 627 runs, 178 2B, 18 3B, 242 HR, 856 RBI
Combined major league stats: 1,440 G, 5,684 PA, .284 average, 777 runs, 222 2B, 30 3B, 261 HR, 1,027 RBI

Minnie Miñoso

Elected to the Hall of Fame: Not yet

Need to know: Maybe this long-overdue decision is what gets Miñoso into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. His career spanned decades, plural, and the bold/italics numbers — indicating league leading stats — are all across his Baseball-Reference page. How many players have led a league in stolen bases (three times) AND total bases (once)? 

Negro Leagues stats: 120 G, 550 PA, .314 average, 94 runs, 32 2B, 12 3B, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 11 SB
American League stats: 1,835 G, 7,713 PA, .298 average, 1,136 runs, 336 2B, 83 3B, 186 HR, 1.023 RBI, 205 SB
Combined major league stats: 1,955 G, 8,263 PA, .300 average, 1,230 runs, 368 2B, 95 3B, 195 HR, 1,093 RBI, 216 SB

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