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Baseball Reference Adds Negro League Stats to Database

The popular baseball stats website Baseball Reference has updated its database to include the statistics of Negro League players.

Baseball Reference announced the inclusion on Tuesday, adding statistics from the Major Negro Leagues from 1920-1948. Those stats are now listed alongside those of the American League and National League as the site works to "celebrate the players, teams, and leagues we are adding to our site."

"The Negro Leagues have always been major leagues," Baseball Reference said in its announcement. "We are changing our site's presentation to properly recognize this fact."

"In keeping with our mission and values at Sports Reference, when it comes to this endeavor, our intent is to celebrate the players, teams, and leagues we are adding to our site, as well as to educate our users about the history of these leagues."

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Baseball Reference's update comes six months after Major League Baseball announced it was elevating the Negro Leagues to Major League status in an effort to "highlight the contributions of the pioneers who played from 1920-1948." More than 3,400 players now have their names in the MLB record books after the recognition of the Negro Leagues.

“All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game’s best players, innovations, and triumphs against a backdrop of injustice,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as major leaguers within the official historical record.”

Many Negro League legends can be found on the career leaderboards across Baseball Reference's website. Hall-of-Fame center fielder and Negro Leagues legend Oscar Charleston now sits No. 4 on the all-time OPS leaderboard (sandwiched between Lou Gehrig and Barry Bonds), while Satchel Paige checks in at No. 7 on the all-time Adjusted ERA+ list. 

Baseball Reference will continue updating its site in the coming months to include additional stats for Negro League players. The website is still working to recover decades-old box scores, adding home runs and strikeouts to various players' pages as new information arises. 

“For many years, we’ve heard those great stories. Some of its folklore and some of it is embellished truth. Those truths have long been a staple of Negro League stats and narrative,” Larry Lester, the co-founder of Negro Leagues Museum said. “While these stories can be entertaining, now a dialogue can include quantified and qualified stats to support the authentic greatness of these great athletes like Josh Gibson."

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