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The 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues

On August 16th, 1920 the NBL (Negro Baseball League) was started to give African Americans a way to play professional baseball. They were segregated from their white counterparts due to race relations in American at the time. Rather than give you the history you know about the NBL such as why it was made, the sign of the times, and all of that, I want to treat this league with the respect and integrity of other sports leagues and commemorate some of the greatest players, moments, and teams in that league’s short history with a longstanding legacy.

Negro League’s Greatest Franchise: the Kansas City Monarchs

The NBL was in it’s 9th year of play when they had their great and famous Kansas City Monarchs’ franchise step in and become the greatest single-season team in NBL history. They went an NBL record 62-17 (.785 winning percentage) and won the NBL World Series, one of 11 won in a timespan from 1920-1947, meaning 40.7% of all NBL World Series champions were the Kansas City Monarchs. They had players such as the legendary Satchel Paige and the infamous Jackie Robinson.

The Monarchs were the Evil Empire of the NBL, and deserve credit as one of the great sports dynasties.

Satchel Paige’s Advanced Pitching Style

Satchel Paige in the NBL is arguably the greatest pitcher of all time. I can’t imagine how dominant he would’ve been had integration came around much sooner. Paige had a career that was insane, and when stacked up against who I have as the pitching G.O.A.T, he goes toe to toe.

PlayerERAERA+K-BB%K%WAR/150
Pedro Martinez2.9315421.0%27.7%4.5
Satchel Paige2.3617018.424.3%4.9

Satchel Paige is incredible, he trumps Pedro in run prevention and while Pedro is a better strikeout pitcher and strikeout-to-walk % pitcher, remember that it was common for pitchers to have a below 0 strikeout to walk percentage in Paige’s era of baseball. While I’d still consider Pedro the G.O.A.T of pitchers, Paige makes a very interesting case.

Josh Gibbons Was a Top 3 Hitter All Time

Let’s show you a graphic to give you an idea of the hitter we are working with here:

PlayerHR/150OPS+OBPwOBASLGWAR/150
Josh Gibbons39203.449.497.6909.4
Babe Ruth43206.474.513.69010.1

So, yes, Babe Ruth is the better hitter and player, but do you see how close it is offensively? These stats were used from Seamheads which has a database of advanced stats for the Negro Leagues. Josh Gibbons wasn’t just a really good hitter, he was a transcendent talent who could go toe to toe with the greatest players in the MLB. Is Gibbons better than Ruth? No, but he was rumored to be a much better power hitter than we have records of, so maybe if we had all the data, he truly would be. Even with these stats, he’d be top-five in every slash line and era adjusted average and index stat.

Appreciating the Influence of the Negro Leagues

Every time we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day, we celebrate how the MLB has been affected by integration. Your favorite players would most likely not be in the league if the NBL never existed. Giving people of color a chance to play has affected baseball forever. The last Triple Crown Winner? Miguel Cabrera, a player who wouldn’t have played pre-1947. How about Juan Soto’s emergence and Howie Kendrick’s clutch hitting to win the Nats a World Series? All of these things aren’t possible without the Negro Leagues and it’s players, who paved the way for integration in the MLB.

Have a baseball lover that you need to get a gift for? Check out our partner at Dugout Mugs! Create a personalized mug made out of the barrel of a bat. Great for any baseball fan, or, let’s be honest, yourself!

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