The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues

Historians Reappraise Black Baseball


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About the Book

How good was Negro League Baseball (1920–1948)? Some experts maintain that the quality of play was equal to that of the American and National Leagues. Some believe the Negro Leagues should be part of Major League Baseball’s official record and that more Negro League players should be in the Hall of Fame. Skeptics contend that while many players could be rated highly, NL organizations were minor league at best. Drawing on the most comprehensive data available, including stats from more than 2,000 interracial games, this study finds that black baseball was very good indeed. Negro leaguers beat the big leaguers more than half the time in head-to-head contests, demonstrated stronger metrics within their own leagues and excelled when finally allowed into the majors. The authors document the often duplicitous manner in which MLB has dealt with the legacy of the Negro Leagues, and an appendix includes the scores and statistics from every known contest between Negro League and Major League teams.

About the Author(s)

Visual artist and teacher Todd Peterson lives in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has been published in Baseball Research Journal and Black Ball.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Todd Peterson

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 323
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6514-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3642-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1

Part One. Equality 5
Baseball Is the Music of Mathematics
Larry Lester 6
The Case for the Negro Leagues
Todd Peterson 9
Measuring Equality: A Statistical Comparison of the Negro Leagues to the Major Leagues Based on the 1925 Season
Richard J. Puerzer 43
Gray Area: Homestead vs. the Minor Leagues
Scott Simkus 51
The Color of Money: Salaries and Performance in Pre–and Post-Integration Baseball
Michael Haupert 57
Winning in the Crucible of White-Hot Competition
Jeffery S. Williams 75
The Top Ten Reasons Why the Negro Leagues Should Be Declared a Major League
Ted Knorr 98

Part Two. Equity 109
Hotel Resorts and the Emergence of the Black Baseball Professional: Riverine and Maritime Communities, 1867–1890
James E. Brunson III 110
Leading Off: The Cuban Giants
Tony Kissel 140
Rube Foster: Negro League Giant
Robert C. Cottrell 147
John Donaldson: Restoring the Legacy of Segregated Baseball’s Greatest Pitcher
Pete Gorton 166
The Measure of Failure: Atlanta Baseball and Community Development in the 1930s and 1970s
Thomas Aiello 173
Changing the Way They Do Business: Jackie Robinson, Integration and the Origins of Organizational Culture in Organized Baseball
Michael E. Lomax 185
Separate but Unequal
Philip J. Lowry 196
Monuments: The Shaping of Negro Leagues Public Memory
Josh Howard 199

Appendix I: NLB vs. MLB, 1885–1924 209
Appendix II: NLB vs. MLB All-Stars, 1902–1948 214
Appendix III: NLB vs. MLB Batting, Pitching and Fielding Statistics, 1886–1948 227
Appendix IV: Batting and Pitching Statistics of Negro Leaguers in MLB and Triple A 265
Appendix V: Black Minor League Batting and Pitching Leaders, 1946–1975 281
Appendix VI: MLB/NLB Throwback Games, 1994–2019 287
Bibliography 293
About the Contributors 301
Index 303

Book Reviews & Awards

“How good were the Negro Leagues? Conventional thinking has dictated that, while stars from the Negro Leagues (Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and many others) were every bit the equal of, if not superior to, Major League standouts, the overall quality of Negro Leagues play was inferior to that of the majors. This collection of essays by baseball historians, many affiliated with the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), tells a different story…. the authors have assembled all the available data and reassessed it in a wealth of revealing ways, including a comparison of all games played between 1920 and 1948 between Negro League teams and major leaguers…Peterson dives much deeper into the stats in his contribution, ‘The Case for the Negro Leagues,’ which analyzes available pitching and hitting records to show that in every area the Negro Leagues either outperform or are equal to Major League numbers…an important contribution to baseball history”—Booklist