Josh Gibson New GOAT After Negro League Stats Added To MLB


Josh Gibson New GOAT After Negro League Stats Added To MLB

Baseball Adds Negro League Stats to Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball (MLB) announced on Wednesday that statistics from the Negro Leagues have been officially added to the MLB database changing sports history.

In 2020, MLB elevated the status of Negro Leagues statistics to “major league,” calling this change “a longtime oversight in the game’s history.” Since then, MLB has collaborated with the Elias Sports Bureau to integrate these stats into the league’s official records.

This integration has significantly altered the baseball record books. For instance, Willie Mays now has 10 additional hits, and Satchel Paige’s win total has jumped from 28 to 125.


Perhaps the most remarkable change is the reevaluation of who might be considered the greatest baseball player of all time: Josh Gibson. A legendary catcher in the Negro Leagues, Gibson’s stellar performance now places him in contention as the best player in baseball history across any league.

“When you hear Josh Gibson’s name now, it’s not just that he was the greatest player in the Negro Leagues,’’ Sean Gibson, Gibson’s great grandson, told USA TODAY Sports, “but one of the greatest of all time. These aren’t just Negro League stats. They’re major-league baseball stats.

Due to the updated records, Gibson now holds the highest career batting average (.372, surpassing Ty Cobb’s .367), the highest slugging percentage (.718, overtaking Babe Ruth’s .690), and the highest OPS (1.177, exceeding Ruth’s 1.164). His career on-base percentage of .459 ranks third all-time.


Gibson also now holds several single-season records. His .446 batting average in 1943 for the Homestead Grays is a new record, as is his .974 slugging percentage from 1937, surpassing Barry Bonds’ .863 from his 73-homer season in 2001. Additionally, Gibson has the two best single-season OPS marks, including a 1.474 OPS from 1937, again outperforming Bonds.

It’s important to note that Gibson’s exact statistics may never be fully known. MLB has worked with Elias and other Negro League researchers to establish “official” stats. According to’s database, Gibson played in 653 games, compared to Ruth’s 2,504 and Cobb’s 3,034. In 1943, Gibson is recorded to have played 74 games, while in 1937, he played 39 games.

In 1969, MLB’s Special Committee on Baseball Records ruled that “no asterisk or official sign shall be used to indicate the number of games scheduled” for all-time single-season records. This ruling applies even if records were broken in the strike-shortened 1994 season or the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.


Despite his shorter seasons and fewer games, Gibson’s cumulative numbers don’t match the all-time rankings. His Hall of Fame plaque mentions he hit “almost 800 home runs in league and independent baseball during his 17-year career,” but most of these came in “barnstorming” exhibitions not included in MLB’s official records.

The record books now credit Gibson with 838 hits, 174 home runs, 359 walks, and only 11 strikeouts.

Tragically, Gibson fell into a coma at age 32 in 1943, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and died of a stroke four years later. He never saw baseball’s integration, passing away three months before Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larry Doby famously remarked that Gibson died prematurely, feeling he should have been the one to break the color barrier instead of Robinson.


In honor of Gibson, a statue was erected outside Nationals Park in 2009, and he was inducted into the Nationals’ Ring of Honor in 2010. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, the same year Robinson died.

MLB states that research on Negro Leagues statistics is about 75% complete, so further updates are expected. It has been three and a half years since MLB officially elevated the Negro Leagues’ statistics to major league status in December 2020.



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