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The white league and their records

Posted by mikelink45 , 13 April 2018 · 469 views

negro leagues black ball players aaron robinson
The white league and their records My last blog chronicled the movement of black baseball players into major league baseball from Jackie Robinson in 1947 to the Red Sox finally adding a black player in 1958. As I said then, if we question the impact of steroids on our baseball records we should also look at how the exclusion of the black ballplayer impacted the records between 1989 and 1958. If one deserves an asterisk, the other requires a new said of record standards.
I understand that baseball evolves – we had the hitless era, the homerun explosion, the war years, the years of integration, baseball’s best decade by my estimation in the 1960’s, then the domination by the pitcher, free agency, the monsters of the steroid, and the era of the bullpen. So it is hard to completely compare and determine what a difference the addition of the African American player made, except for my judgmental statement that the 1960’s might be baseball’s best decade.

In the 1950’s I rooted for the Milwaukee Braves and learned to hate the Yankees. The Yankees dominated everything as the rest of the teams integrated. The Yankees, took their time, added Elston Howard, but did very little and their star began to diminish. In fact they signed other black players like Vic Power and Reuben Gomez, but they were traded because the Yankees management wanted to make sure that they had a quiet “negro” and not a trouble maker like Jackie Robinson. http://www.angelfire...ge/elston.html
This started the downfall and end of the Yankee dynasty until they started signing or more likely trading or signing Free Agent black and Latino players like Willie Randolph, Derrick Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, and Rickey Henderson.

From Aaron and the 1957 Braves on into the 1960s it was a plethora of Black players – Robinson, Mays, Clemente, Stargell, Gibson, Banks, Jenkins – that set the standards for MLB.

The influx of black ball players meant that the quality of MLB increased dramatically. It is easy to make the assumption that the lack of black ball players meant that the all white major leagues did not have a representative set of statistics and all stars before Robinson and Campanella and Mays and others joined the league.

  • Platoon and nclahammer like this



Very interesting perspective that makes one think.

 

    • mikelink45 likes this

I appreciate the post.I think the color barrier being wiped out represents probably the most dramatic and rapid transition from one era of baseball to another.Of course, in terms of the larger social picture in this country, it was even more impactful than it was for baseball.

 

But having said that, baseball always evolves.If the point is that Babe Ruth wouldn't have had 714 home runs if he had had to bat against the best black pitchers of his era...or that Ted Williams wouldn't have hit 406 in 1941 is he had had to face the best of his era...then I think that's a reasonable argument.

 

If, on the other hand, the argument is that Babe Ruth or Ted Williams would not have been among the very best players of their era or any other era, then I would disagree.After all, during the color-barrier era, African Americans represented 10% of the population.What the great players of Ruth's and (early) Williams' eras accomplished, they accomplished against the very best from a pool of 90% of the population...virtually without any of the siphoning of elite athletes to other sports that started in the 50's and accelerated from there.

 

So, I prefer to view the color-barrier era in terms of the tragedy and travesty for the black players, not as an invalidation or marginalization of what the great white or native players accomplished.The tragedy is that from the 10% that were excluded, there were undoubtedly players that should have been placed right along side the Ruth's and the Williams' of those eras...maybe even above them.Thankfully, MLB has at least gone to some effort to recognize who those players were....players like Josh Gibson, who may have been, for a 10-year period starting in the early 30's, the greatest player alive...or that ever lived.

 

But baseball always evolves, and it's always extremely problematic to compare numbers across eras.Would Hank Aaron have ended up with 755 home runs if he had taken +10% of his at-bats against Dominican relief pitchers throwing 97 mph?Probably not.(MLB started to open the door to Dominican players right around 1970.)Would Kershaw already have 2000 strike-outs if he had played in an era where putting the ball in play had value?Turned around:how many more strikeouts would Nolan Ryan have ended up with if he had started his career in 2010 instead of 1969?And so it goes.

 

I don't think my thoughts contradict anything in the post.I enjoyed the post and found it interesting enough to share my thoughts.

 

I appreciate the post.I think the color barrier being wiped out represents probably the most dramatic and rapid transition from one era of baseball to another.Of course, in terms of the larger social picture in this country, it was even more impactful than it was for baseball.

 

But having said that, baseball always evolves.If the point is that Babe Ruth wouldn't have had 714 home runs if he had had to bat against the best black pitchers of his era...or that Ted Williams wouldn't have hit 406 in 1941 is he had had to face the best of his era...then I think that's a reasonable argument.

 

If, on the other hand, the argument is that Babe Ruth or Ted Williams would not have been among the very best players of their era or any other era, then I would disagree.After all, during the color-barrier era, African Americans represented 10% of the population.What the great players of Ruth's and (early) Williams' eras accomplished, they accomplished against the very best from a pool of 90% of the population...virtually without any of the siphoning of elite athletes to other sports that started in the 50's and accelerated from there.

 

So, I prefer to view the color-barrier era in terms of the tragedy and travesty for the black players, not as an invalidation or marginalization of what the great white or native players accomplished.The tragedy is that from the 10% that were excluded, there were undoubtedly players that should have been placed right along side the Ruth's and the Williams' of those eras...maybe even above them.Thankfully, MLB has at least gone to some effort to recognize who those players were....players like Josh Gibson, who may have been, for a 10-year period starting in the early 30's, the greatest player alive...or that ever lived.

 

But baseball always evolves, and it's always extremely problematic to compare numbers across eras.Would Hank Aaron have ended up with 755 home runs if he had taken +10% of his at-bats against Dominican relief pitchers throwing 97 mph?Probably not.(MLB started to open the door to Dominican players right around 1970.)Would Kershaw already have 2000 strike-outs if he had played in an era where putting the ball in play had value?Turned around:how many more strikeouts would Nolan Ryan have ended up with if he had started his career in 2010 instead of 1969?And so it goes.

 

I don't think my thoughts contradict anything in the post.I enjoyed the post and found it interesting enough to share my thoughts.

Thanks for the thoughtful response.Great players will always be great - no matter who they play for or against, but in an era when we look at the surge of 600-700 home runs and wonder if something needs to be done to designate the steroid era, but premise is that each era stands on its own and there really are now good ways to compare the statistics across the decades, as fun as it is.  

​When we get into HOF arguments like the one that consumed everyone over Morris' ERA we lose the perspective of how did he perform in comparison to his peers and his team.  

 

Of course the statistics would be different for Ruth and others if African Americans had been included, just as the Negro League stats would have changed.   

​But as my paragraph on the different era's stated baseball has had anything but a consistent history.30 game winners and 400 hitters were once common, not McLain and Williams seem like true outliers.100 stolen bases a season once defined baseball and now we are lucky to see 50 in a year by the best runners.Home Run baker would not match Mauer, yet he excited his era.  

​You are right about the strikeouts that are so much easier to get now than when every player choked up on the bat with two strikes. 

 

The social crime was and is the way that people of color have been denied an opportunity, but in baseball each generation will be convinced that their players are the greatest of all time and the numbers will be reconfigured so that they might seem right.  

 

But in the end, I can only say that Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Robinson, Banks, Marichal, Gibson, Henderson and other great black ball players made my baseball enjoyment so much greater.