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MLB has officially recognized Negro Leagues statistics, allowing more than 2,300 players to have their accomplishments recognized in the league’s official database. This decision has been years in the making and was announced by Commissioner Robert Manfred three years ago. Josh Gibson, a legendary figure in baseball history, will now lead multiple batting categories with records that eclipse those set by major league icons like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. The decision has been hailed as the righting of a historical wrong and a step towards making baseball a game for all Americans.

The Negro Leagues Statistical Review Committee, chaired by Major League Baseball historian John Thorn, has been responsible for integrating the statistics from the seven Negro Leagues into the MLB database. This has involved reviewing thousands of box scores, newspaper clippings, and other data to ensure the accuracy of the historical record. The project will continue to be updated as more data becomes available, with researchers working tirelessly to add to the historical record. Thorn emphasized that the new statistics will be treated with the same weight as those from the American and National leagues, without any asterisks or footnotes.

To honor the Negro Leagues players, Major League Baseball will host a tribute game on June 20 at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The game will feature players wearing period uniforms and honoring legendary center fielder Willie Mays, who was a native of Alabama. The updated MLB database is set to go live on Wednesday without any distinctions between the statistics of Negro Leagues players and those of modern-day MLB stars. This move has been praised for its profound impact in recognizing the contributions of Black players to the history of the sport.

Sean Gibson, the great-grandson of Josh Gibson and executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation, expressed excitement for the recognition of his great-grandfather and other Negro Leagues players. He highlighted that despite not playing in the major leagues, Josh Gibson was always considered a major leaguer by his family. The decision to include Negro Leagues statistics in the MLB database means that players like Gibson and 97-year-old Ron Teasley, one of the three surviving Negro Leagues players, will finally see their accomplishments recognized alongside those of MLB legends. This momentous decision represents a significant step towards acknowledging the historical contributions of Black players to the game of baseball.

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