How MLB’s inclusion of Negro League stats proves power of DEI

FORMER PIRATES PLAYER KEVIN YOUNG, right, is pictured in a throwback Pittsburgh Crawfords uniform with Sean Gibson, great-grandson of Negro League great Josh Gibson. Sean Gibson is sporting the throwback Homestead Grays jersey. Courier File Photo

Negro League stats will now be included in official Major League Baseball stats. In a statement, MLB officials revealed that Negro League stats from 1920-48 will now be apart of MLB’s official record.

“We are proud that the official historical record now includes the players of the Negro Leagues,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “This initiative is focused on ensuring that future generations of fans have access to the statistics and milestones of all those who made the Negro Leagues possible. Their accomplishments on the field will be a gateway to broader learning about this triumph in American history and the path that led to Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Dodger debut.”

This 1942 photo provided by the Carnegie Museum of Art shows Homestead Grays baseball catcher Josh Gibson crouched on Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. (Charles “Teenie” Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art via AP)

The decision will now shake up MLB records as prominent Negro League players such as Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, and Jackie Robinson will move up in the record books. Gibson now stands as the MLB all-time leader in batting average and slugging percentage.

The connection between sports and policy can serve as a key example of how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can be effective. When all Americans are given fair opportunities to participate in sports, corporate, and educational institutions, the nation becomes better as a whole. 

However, there continues to be an intense attack on DEI efforts from right-wing politicians and advocates. 

Those attacks became more detrimental after the Supreme Court ruled that Affirmative Action was illegal. On June 29, 2023, the court ruled that colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration when it comes to admissions. The decision overturned the long-standing precedent that benefited Black and Latino students in higher education. But nepotism and legacy students can still be considered in college admissions. 

Furthermore, Edward Blum, the person who helped to spear-head the downfall of Affirmative Action, has filed a lawsuit with the hopes of making it illegal for Blacks to receive business funding. Blum sued the Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm that uses its resources to invests in and fund Black women in business, claiming the organization violated the 1866 Civil Rights Act, a Civil War-era law that bars racial bias in contracting.

And the governor of Alabama, and officials at UNC-Board of Governors have signed sweeping bills that ban state funds for (DEI) diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public entities including at public schools and higher education.

From a policy standpoint, there is a racially-charged mission to destroy the progression of Blacks in America and DEI and Affirmative Action is at the center. 

When a meritocracy exists, there’s an advancement in all aspects of America. When it comes to sports, Black athletes have proven to be exceptional when provided the opportunity. 

The Negro League was created after white owners of the professional National League adopted a “gentleman’s agreement” to keep Black players from participating. Rube Foster would launch the National Negro League in 1920, providing an outlet for some of the most talented athletes in American history. 

But after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, the MLB game improved and Black athletes proved that they belonged. In 1965, 6.4% of white MLB players (36 out of 562) were considered stars, while 20% of Blacks MLB players (28 of 140) were stars, a percentage three times as large. By 1967, 60% of MLB star players were Black, according to Baseball Research Journal. 

In a sense, the attacks on DEI does not come from a place where someone is given an opportunity that they don’t deserve. Instead, it’s a fear that when Black people are given an equal opportunity, success will follow. 

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