Negro Leagues: Baseball legend Willie Mays talks about the integrity of MLB statistics

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Willie Mays provided a statement to CNN about MLB incorporating Negro League statistics into its historical records.


Baseball legend Willie Mays never expected to have another 10 career hits five decades after his last game. But that’s exactly what happened last week when… Major League Baseball incorporated Negro League statistics into its record books.

“This is a very good thing,” Mays told CNN in a statement on Wednesday. “That must be a record for a 93-year-old.”

The Hall of Famer is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Over the course of his career, he hit 660 home runs and 3,283 hits in 23 MLB seasons, most of them with the New York Giants. He is also remembered for making “The Catch,” an over-the-shoulder catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series — one of the best defensive plays of all time.

“The Say Hey Kid” had something to say about his experience as a teenager with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. His 10 hits have now been counted for the Barons, bringing his career total to 3,293 – good for 12th in the standings. List of hits of all time.

“I was still in high school,” Mays told CNN, when he joined the team in 1948. “Our school didn’t have a baseball team. I played football and basketball, but I loved baseball. So my father let me play…but If only I stayed in school he wanted me to graduate. I played with the team on weekends until school ended for the summer.

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“I thought it was him; this was the top of the world. Man, I was so proud to play with those guys,” Mays said in the statement.

The New York Giants purchased Mays’ contract in 1950 — three years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier — and the following season he began his remarkable Major League Baseball career.

As a result of MLB’s incorporation of statistics From the previous Negro periodicals Players in its historical records on its website, and legendary leaders in some categories like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb have now been replaced in the record books by players who were not allowed to play on the same fields during segregation.

Josh Gibson, one of the greatest players in the history of the Negro Leagues, is now listed as MLB’s all-time career leader in batting average at .372, ahead of Cobb at .367. MLB’s website shows Gibson also bests Ruth in career slugging percentage.

MLB’s action added more than 2,300 Negro League players from 1920 to 1948 to its database.

“I’m glad all the players who played got credit for their hitting, because those pitchers were good,” Mays said, referring to Satchel Paige, who is considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball and who He now ranks third all-time in terms of earned run average in a single season With his performance in 1944 for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League.

Mays described his statistical achievement at the age of 93 as “amazing.”

“I’m very grateful to all the people who took care of me back then, and for MLB to come back and make sure we get the credit for those years,” he said.

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