View Full Version : Statistics and Negro Leagues
01-06-2002, 12:11 PM
I have never seen any statistics to the Negro Leagues. Were none kept or were they just too sparse to be considered reliable?
Is there any effort underway to construct a history of the stats?
Didn't they estimate Josh Gibson to have something like 850 home runs in his career?
01-06-2002, 06:55 PM
In terms of accuracy, Florida vote counts rank higher than Negro League stats.
Negro League stats often include literally any kind of game, including exhibition games and barnstorming games in which the players played against the locals.
Also, compounding the problem is one of the nation's "leading" so called researchers is a disreputable crackpot. His work is often cited as fact, let there are significant reasons not to believe a thing he writes. I agree with the statement someone wrote on a baseball mailing list in the past week, in which they wrote it's only a slight exaggeration to say this guy is the kind of person who, if there were 2 newspaper accounts for a game, he'd credit a player with 2 HRs since the HR was mentioned both places. Actually, judging by his ability to make up "facts" in his SABR-L posts, I'm not so sure that would be an exaggeration of his direputability.
Additionally, some Negro League researchers have admitted that, when a category is missing from a Negro League boxscore, which they say frequently happens, they will just credit the players with whatever stats are in the columns that do appear. So, if they didn't keep track of how many hits were allowed by each pitcher (which wasn't an uncommon event in earlier box scores), each pitcher would get credit for his IPs and, as far as hits go, it's the same as though he pitched a no hitter. Think of what that does to opponent's batting average. If the box score had runs allowed, but not unearned runs, or even neither R nor ER for each indiividual pitcher, the pitchers stat wouldn't show any ERs. That's going to have a drastic effect on ERAs.
01-06-2002, 08:49 PM
Disreputable crackpot? You mean there are reputable ones? ;)
01-06-2002, 10:23 PM
Another problem with Negro League statistics is, they didn't have a season like we now think of a league season, or like the white leagues played in the same years. They would play whenever and wherever they could make some money, whether another team in the league, a semipro team, or a white team on a day off. The African-American (or whatever term you prefer) newspapers would often carry accounts and boxscores, but as Lee says, they were often incomplete.
League games were fairly well documented, but the number of league games would vary from year to year and even team to team. Never did any team play as much as 100 league games in a year, so far as I am aware. So, for most Negro players before integration, we are left with sparse statistical evidence, and whatever anecdotal evidence survives.
01-06-2002, 10:50 PM
Yes it is sad but true, stats in the old Negro Leagues were only as good as the guys that kept them......nothing was for certain, but they had some great players. I'm a white guy but have seen a lot of Negro baseball. Also am sure that every country town in the past had teams that played them, a lot of barnstroming going on in those years of bygone. Also I remember a team out of Pittsburgh Pa, called the House of David........As a kid I can remember the long beards they had.........all were Jewish and some really good players. Anyway getting back to Josh Gibson, the footage on his homers were all estimated.......but I guarantee you some of them were well over 500 feet............I saw a few of them. The good ole days.............whoever dreamed of the boys of summer making millions of $$$$$$$$$$$$ and complaining every step of the way.......Ho Hum
01-07-2002, 09:33 AM
I tend to think that the Negroes leagues are adequately represented in the HoF compares the number of them enshrined versus the number of white players enshrined in those periods. Being in Kansas City where Buck O'Neill is considered (and rightly so) a national treasure it is hard to say no when he suggests a certain player ought to be in the HoF.
The great problem, of course, is that even with the statistics we have don't have the yardstick of competitive play to measure them by since we don't know how good they were versus their white counterparts. We do know they were very competitive in post-season barn storming games. But barn storming and league play can be two different things.
I have greatly supported the entrance of the great Negro League players as full members of the HoF, I just wonder if it time to call an end to it. We are really down to the anecdotal remembrances of very aged men.
Of course, if I had my "druthers" I like to see the whole Veterans Committee idea whacked.
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