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Opinion | It’s about time Negro League players were recognized by Major League Baseball | Otis Sanford

Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on the Negro Leagues becoming part of the MLB.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We are less than a week away from the start of the next professional basketball season. And the playoffs in pro football are just around the corner. But Wednesday, major league baseball made the biggest headlines – and the stories have real meaning for Memphis.

League officials announced that they will now recognize players and teams from the Negro Leagues as part of the Major Leagues. In other words, the stats that African American players compiled while being forced to play on segregated teams – will now be counted in official Major League record books. And that means players for the Memphis Red Sox will finally be counted as major leaguers.

The Red Sox played in various Negro Leagues from the early 1920s through the 1950s. While they never won a championship, the team produced some outstanding players, including the late Charley Pride.

Several players went on to the Major Leagues, including Dan Bankhead, the first black pitcher in the majors. He joined the Brooklyn Dodgers directly from Memphis in the summer of 1947 – just a couple of months after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier with the Dodgers.

All of this is one more example of this country’s reckoning with race. We have long known that Negro League players, including those in Memphis, were every bit as good as their white counterparts. Now Major League Baseball is recognizing that fact. And it’s about time. And that’s my point of view.

Major League Baseball has long celebrated the legacy of the Negro Leagues. But for the first time, MLB is officially recognizing that the quality of the segregation-era circuits was comparable to its own product from that time period. Addressing what MLB described as a "long overdue recognition," Commissioner Rob Manfred


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