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"Double Duty" Radcliffe, at 100 years old, is the oldest living player ffrom the Negro Leagues. He c

“Double Duty” Radcliffe tries to tag Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays. | Source: Vince Compagnone / Getty

UPDATED: 11:00 a.m. ET, May 29, 2024

When baseball aficionados debate who is the greatest player of all time, they must add Hall of Fame catcher Josh Gibson to that list.

According to USA Today, Gibson and all former Negro League players have officially had their stats added to Major League Baseball’s historical records, a project that has been in the works for more than three years. 

After the addition of Negro League statistics, Josh Gibson officially became Major League Baseball’s career leader in batting average with a .372, slightly edging out Ty Cobb’s .367 average. 

In 1943, Gibson batted .466 for the 1943 Homestead Grays, which is now the best in MLB history. Gibson also became the career leader in slugging percentage (.718) and OPS (1.177), moving ahead of Babe Ruth (.690 and 1.164).

“This initiative is focused on ensuring that future generations of fans have access to the statistics and milestones of all those who made the Negro Leagues possible,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement to AP. “Their accomplishments on the field will be a gateway to broader learning about this triumph in American history and the path that led to Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Dodger debut.”

In 2020, Major League Baseball announced its plans to add Negro League stats to its official records after a 17-person committee that included Negro Leagues experts and statisticians worked through the detailed strategy.

John Thorn, MLB’s official historian credits the 2020 shortened season for the idea to add Negro League players to the record books. 

“The condensed 60-game season for the 2020 calendar year for the National League and American League prompted us to think that maybe the shortened Negro League seasons could come under the MLB umbrella, after all,” Thorn told AP.

An updated version of the stat books will become public on June 20, after a tribute game to the Negro Leagues in  Birmingham, Alabama.

Take a look at our list of the best Black baseball players of all time.

1945 Homestead Grays

Source: Transcendental Graphics / Getty

Fifty years ago, baseball was the sport that had the hearts of Black children across the country.

Before Major League Baseball integrated, African-Americans created the Negro Leagues, which was a farm full of fresh Black talent that was home to the likes of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson to name a few.

But what was once the most popular sport amongst African Americans has become an afterthought in the community. While the lack of Black baseball players is a major concern (8%), we can’t forget the great players who have donned uniforms for various ball clubs from Willie Mays to present-day stars.

Below is a list of the best Black baseball players of all time. We compiled it in a starting lineup format.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and suggestions.

First Basemen

“The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas leads off our list of “Best Black Baseball Players of All-Time” as one of the greatest first-basemen ever.

Thomas, who spent 15 years on the Southside of Chicago with the White Sox, hit .301 for his career, hit 521 home runs, and drove in 1,704 runs.

Second Basemen

The man who broke the baseball color barrier in 1947, Jackie Robinson, was a six-time all-star selection.

Robinson, whose jersey has been retired by every MLB team, is most remembered for work both on and off the field in advancing the cause of Black athletes in the sport.

Third Basemen

While Derek Jeter didn’t play third base, we didn’t think he should be left off the list for someone like the Atlanta Braves Terry Pendleton. While Pendleton has a solid career, it wasn’t a Hall of Fame one like Jeter.

Jeter, who joined the 3,000 hit club this past weekend with a classic 5-for-5 game, has won 5 World Series titles with the Bronx Bombers.

He’s also a twelve-time all-star and is signed with the Yankees through 2015.

Shortstop

The man known around North Chicago as “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks, signed with the Cubs in 1953 after playing for years in the Negro Leagues.

Once he joined the Cubs in 1953, he never left. He spent his next 18 seasons batting .271, hitting 512 homers, and driving in 1,636 runs.

Left Field

One of the most controversial athletes of all time, Barry Bonds takes the left field slot in our list. Bonds, who is reviled across the country by most sports fans, is second on the all-time home run list with 762.

Bonds finished his career with the Giants batting .298 with 1,996 runs batted in.

Center Field

Many consider Willie Mays to be the greatest all-around baseball player of all time. As dazzling as he was in the batter’s box, he also shined as a fielder catching up to fly balls and line drivers unlike any player of his time. Mays won a record-tying twelve Gold Gloves, won the MVP award twice, and won a World Series title in 1954.

Right Fielder

Before injuries derailed his career, many thought Ken Griffey Jr. was on his way to becoming the greatest player of all time. He had all the tools – he could run, play defense, hit for power, hit for average, and throw. While Griffey finished his career in Cincinnati and back home in Seattle, many choose to remember his glory years. He hit .284 for his career and hit 630 home runs.

Designated Hitter

Henry “Hank” Aaron is most remembered for being the home-run king with 755 dingers. But many forget that he’s also part of the storied 3,000 hit club.

For 23 years, Aaron was one of the greatest baseball players to ever step foot on the field. He finished his career with an impressive .305 batting average, 2,297 runs batted in, and made the all-star twenty years in a row from 1955-75. He led the Atlanta Braves to a 1957 World Series title.

Catcher

Considered by many as not only the greatest catcher to ever play in the Negro Leagues, but the greatest catcher in baseball history period, Josh Gibson hit an astounding .359 for his career.

Known as the “Black Babe Ruth,” he never played in the Major Leagues because of their exclusionary rules towards Blacks.

Starting Pitcher

One of the most dominant pitchers of all time, lifetime St. Louis Cardinal Bob Gibson struck fear in all opposing batters. Gibson went 251-174 for the Cardinals and had a 2.91 ERA for his career.

He won the Cy Young twice and was a two-time World Series MVP.

Closer

Lee Smith was one of the most dominant closers of all time. He held the record for most saves for 13 years until 2006 when San Diego Padres closer, Trevor Hoffman, passed him.

Smith finished his career with 478 saves and a 3.03 ERA. He spent the majority of his career with the Chicago Cubs.

Who did we miss? Let us know.

SEE ALSO:

Here’s Every Black Head Coach In NFL History

Notable NBA Players Who Attended HBCUs

The post The Best Black Baseball Players Of All Time appeared first on NewsOne.

The Best Black Baseball Players Of All Time  was originally published on newsone.com