Sports Reference Blog

Updated Negro Leagues Data on Baseball Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on March 28, 2023

Thanks to our partnership with the Seamheads Negro League database, we have released our second annual update of the dataset. Our last update, in April of 2022, was covered in this blog post. Like last year, this update includes thousands of incremental improvements. The most significant new data revolves around expanded statistics for the 1940 and 1941 seasons in the Negro American League and the Negro National League II. Additionally, lots of new biographical data has been added. Here's a rundown of some of the improvements Baseball Reference users will now see:

About 90 new players have been identified. For instance, John Stephens was previously credited with 470 career innings pitched. With this latest update, he is now down to 35⅔ innings. That’s because it turns out John only pitched one season (1921) and the other seasons were actually a newly discovered player named Frank Stevens. Stevens played six seasons in the major Negro Leagues for eight different teams. Similarly, Emanuel Sampson increased his career plate appearance total from 39 to 172—but not because additional box scores had been found. Those appearances had been incorrectly attributed to Ormond Sampson (the first major league player, and only major Negro League player, born in the Bahamas).

Thanks to expanded 1940 and 1941 statistics, and the discovery of some additional 1945 data, 76 new plate appearances have been discovered for Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella.  Of note, 20 newly discovered plate appearances for him in 1945 have lowered his batting average from .385 to .369, which means Frankie Austin (who drops from .377 to .375 with this update) is now the batting champion for the Negro National League II that season.

Speaking of Hall of Famers, 22 additional innings pitched have been added for Satchel Paige with this update. Of note, Paige's 1941 season with the Kansas City Monarch's has gone from 5-0 with a 2.35 ERA over 46 IP to 7-0 with a 2.06 ERA over 56 2/3 IP.

Here's some other notable leaderboard changes...

1938 Negro American League:

1940 Negro American League:

  • Turkey Stearnes is now the only HR champion with 5. Previously he shared this crown with Neil Robinson (4 each)
  • Jack Matchett now shares the wins title with Frank Bradley and Lefty Calhoun (6 each). Before this update Matchett had sole possession of this title.
  • Turkey Stearnes is the new RBI champ with 33. Before this update Buck O'Neil had been the previous leader.
  • Preacher Henry is now the strikeout champion with 63. The leader had been Eugene Smith (who went from 52 to 56)
  • Ed Mayweather is the new batting and OPS champion with a .376 batting average and 1.028 OPS. He replaces Marshall Riddle, who falls from .377 to .329 in BA and 1.048 to .890 in OPS with this update.
  • Riddle also loses the SLG title as he falls from .607 to .500. Joe Greene is the new champ with a .529 SLG.

1940 Negro National League II:

1941 Negro American League:

  • Gready McKinnis is the new ERA champion, shaving his number from 2.45 in 25 2/3 IP to 1.04 in 34 2/3 IP (3 of the ER runs he allowed were changed to UER). He replaces former ERA champ George Walker, who went from 1.46 to 2.54.
  • Lyman Bostock is the new batting champ as he had hits in 14 of 18 newly discovered at-bats, raising his average from .364 to .466, leaving Cowan Hyde in the dust. This is now the third-best batting average in the history of the major leagues.
  • Willard Brown is now tied with Ted Strong for the HR lead with 6 each (Strong previously was the solo champion).

1941 Negro National League II:

1944 Negro American League:

1946 Negro American League:

1946 Negro National League II:

1948 Negro National League II:

Some other additions:

Pages for team and League executives have been added from 1920 to 1948. About a dozen 'ghost players' have been merged into other already existing players. This means they were players who weren't previously able to be identified who turned out to be players who had been previously identified. Many miscellaneous corrections/additions to things like names, birth dates,  batting hands, throwing hands, uniform numbers, etc.

We hope you enjoy this important update to baseball history. We'd once again like to thank our friends at Seamheads for their work in preserving this history. Please keep your eyes open for additional updates in the weeks ahead, including coverage of the 1921-22 and 1901-02 Cuban League seasons, the 1945 Mexican League and much more.

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