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Josh Gibson MLB career season batting leader Negro Leagues statistics incorporated

Josh Gibson sets MLB career and season batting records as Negro Leagues stats are included, surpassing legends like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.

In a groundbreaking move, Josh Gibson has solidified his place in Major League Baseball history by becoming the career batting leader with a remarkable .372 average, surpassing the legendary Ty Cobb's .367. This historic moment came after a three-year research project that incorporated Negro Leagues records for over 2,300 players.

Gibson's incredible .466 batting average for the 1943 Homestead Grays has now become the gold standard for a single season, surpassing Charlie "Chino" Smith's .451 for the 1929 New York Lincoln Giants and even overtaking Hugh Duffy's .440 for the National League's Boston team in 1894. Additionally, Gibson now holds the record for career slugging percentage (.718) and OPS (1.177), surpassing even the great Babe Ruth.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred emphasized the importance of recognizing the accomplishments of Negro Leagues players, stating that this initiative aims to provide future generations of fans with access to the statistics and milestones of those who made the Negro Leagues possible. He highlighted how these achievements on the field serve as a gateway to understanding the significant role the Negro Leagues played in American history and the path that led to Jackie Robinson's historic debut with the Dodgers in 1947.

The decision to include Negro Leagues records in MLB's database was a long-overdue correction, as acknowledged by John Thorn, MLB's official historian. Thorn explained that the shortened 2020 season due to the pandemic prompted the reconsideration of incorporating the Negro Leagues under the MLB umbrella. A special committee on baseball records, chaired by Thorn and consisting of Negro Leagues experts and statisticians, worked diligently to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data.

As MLB prepares to unveil the updated database, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are set to pay tribute to the Negro Leagues in a special game on June 20 at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. While the statistics on Cooperstown plaques will remain unchanged, the inclusion of Negro Leagues records marks a significant step towards recognizing the contributions of these players to the history of baseball.

The meticulous research process involved in incorporating Negro Leagues statistics presented unique challenges, such as resolving discrepancies in league statistics and identifying players with similar names. Researchers Kevin Johnson and Gary Ashwill, who played a crucial role in assembling the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database, were instrumental in this project. Thorn estimated that approximately 72% of Negro Leagues records from 1920-1948 have been included, with ongoing research potentially leading to further modifications in the future.

Despite the limitations of incomplete game accounts, the significance of this milestone cannot be understated. The inclusion of Negro Leagues records sheds light on a crucial era in baseball history and honors the legacy of players who overcame immense challenges to showcase their talent on the field. As baseball continues to evolve, it is essential to recognize and celebrate the diverse contributions of all players, past and present, who have shaped the game we love.

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