This data comes from two sources: The Negro Leagues Researchers and Authors Group put together by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Gary Ashwill and his collaborators. The Hall of Fame data is found for the years 1920-1948 and the Ashwill data is found from 1902-1919.
Official statistics were not tabulated for Negro League clubs. The statistics reported here have been constructed based upon newspaper accounts and other resources. Game accounts are not always complete and many are missing entirely, so the data are incomplete in many instances. Team totals are generally computed as the sum of player totals, and therefore are also partial.
The data presented here are based on currently available research; future research may lead to revisions as new information comes to light. Negro League clubs played significant numbers of interleague games and games against strong independent clubs. Individual statistics reported here can at times include many of these games, and therefore totals do not balance in categories. The won-lost records in the league standings tables reflect games which counted towards the championship; in some years, some leagues included games against selected strong independent clubs as counting towards the league standings.
This database is under active development. Many statistics are incomplete due to ongoing research and/or limitations in published sources, so please be assured that we are aware there are issues with the data and will continue to work with our data providers to improve the data that appears here.
In 2000, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum received a grant from Major League Baseball to fund an external study on the full history of African-American baseball. Following an open Call for Proposals, multiple submissions were received and the Negro Leagues Researchers and Authors Group (NLRAG), under the coordination of Larry Hogan, Larry Lester, and Dick Clark, was selected to produce this variety of researchers, historians and writers to produce several comprehensive documents. The first was a lengthy manuscript and bibliography covering the African-American baseball story from the Civil War into the 1960s. The manuscript was then condensed into a popular history volume, Shades of Glory, which was published by National Geographic in 2006.
The second was an exhaustive database of game statistics covering the period of 1920 to 1948. Although Negro Leagues Baseball continued league play throughout the fifties, the final data year, 1948, was chosen because it was the last year of the Negro World Series, as newspaper coverage of league play declined significantly with media focus on Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby and other Negro Leaguers breaking in to Major League Baseball.
Under the direction of Larry Lester, Wayne Stivers and Dick Clark, more than 25 researchers culled through more than 345 different newspapers to identify boxscores for Negro Leagues Baseball games. This data was then catalogued so that game-by-game and year-by-year data could be reviewed and analyzed. The cumulative data resulted in more than 9,500 pages of information containing hitting and pitching statistics for more than 6,000 players. This database serves as the foundation for the Negro Leagues Baseball statistics seen here.
Unfortunately, there are no official statistical sources for Negro Leagues Baseball. Much of the game-by-game detail was lost or seldom reported in the years following the demise of these leagues. However, during the past several decades there have been several attempts to collect and rebuild these statistics, mainly using data supplied by boxscores and game accounts published in the many African-American newspapers which existed during the past century. Unfortunately, due to the existence of multiple leagues, and team schedules which regularly included barnstorming and exhibition events, there is no general agreement on what should and should not be counted. Therefore, each of the data sets will contain different information, all premised upon the criteria established by the group or individuals involved.
For purposes of this database, the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group established a strict set of criteria for inclusion on this data set. Data is only included for league sanctioned games from 1920 to 1948 for which a published boxscore or credible scorebook existed. Statistics gleaned from game accounts alone without a supporting boxscore were not included in this study. Other games are acknowledged as being part of the African-American baseball story, but the data is not included here.
The statistics in this database cover two interlinked areas of baseball history: 1) the Negro Leagues and non-league black professional baseball clubs during the era of baseball's color line; and 2) early Latin American professional leagues during roughly the same era. The Latin American leagues featured many of the top black players from the United States, and black Latin American players starred in the Negro Leagues. Together the Latin and Negro Leagues constituted the highest level of professional baseball in the world outside Organized Baseball. The statistics presented here document the play of many of the greatest players in baseball's history who never got the chance to compete in the major leagues, including many members of the Hall of Fame.
Together the playing and biographical data comprise a vast collection of new, never before published information about Negro League and Latin American baseball players from the early part of the 20th century.
This database contains batting, fielding, and pitching statistics for early Latin American baseball leagues, Negro Leagues, and games between top black professional teams before and outside the Negro Leagues themselves. All playing data have been compiled by Gary Ashwill from box scores and game accounts published in contemporary newspapers, with the exception of the 1923 Negro National League, which was compiled by Patrick Rock. Most biographical data about players and managers have similarly been compiled from primary sources (newspapers and official records, including birth, death, marriage, census, military, and immigration records).
This initial version of the database covers:
Black professional teams in the U.S. played many games against white semi-pro, amateur, minor league, and major league teams; in this compilation, only games between black teams are counted. Statistics for NNL teams, 1920-1923, also include games against independent black teams. The Cuban statistics include only games between league opponents.
Box scores and game accounts for Negro League and independent black teams in the U.S. have been drawn from dozens of disparate and sometimes very hard-to-find sources. Negro League statistics are thus almost never complete, and it's highly unlikely we will ever achieve comprehensive coverage in every season.
On the other hand, the Cuban league statistics presented here are nearly complete, with the exception of one missing Almendares/Habana game in the 1904/05 Liga Habanera season, and Matanzas home games for the 1907/08 and 1908/09 Liga General seasons.
This compilation would not have been possible without the input of Dick Clark, Dwayne Isgrig, Kevin Johnson, Larry Lester, Todd Peterson, Brian McKenna, Patrick Rock, Scott Simkus, and David Skinner, all of whom contributed box scores and/or considerable help on many topics.
I have benefited greatly from the expertise and sharp eyes of many researchers. An incomplete list would include Mark Aubrey, John Bowman, Phil Dixon, Howard Henry, John Holway, Jeremy Krock, David Lawrence, César López (of Cubanball.com), Bill Mullins, Rod Nelson, Tito Rondon, John Russell, Geri Strecker, John Thorn, and Fred Worth.
Families of many ballplayers and other figures associated with the Negro Leagues provided invaluable information, in particular Ron Hill, Leslie Penn, and the rest of the Pete Hill family; Francisco Morán of the Carlos, Francisco, and Angel Morán family; Mike Nealy and Elizabeth Heath of the Irvin Brooks family; Andre Padrón and Nancy Padrón of the Juan Padrón family; and Dr. McDonald “Mac” Williams of the Alexander M. Williams family.
Special thanks are due to Marianne Reynolds of the Cincinnati Public Library, Kathie Ward of the New Castle-Henry County (Ind.) Library, Sara McKinley of the Muncie (Ind.) Public Library, Mike Perkins of the Indianapolis Public Library, John Wekluk of the Tippecanoe County (Ind.) Public Library, Jill Scarbrough of the Brazil (Ind.) Public Library, John Beekman of the Jersey City Free Public Library, Jennifer McKinley of the Morgan County (Ind.) Public Library, Kristin Charles-Scaringi of the Kingston (N.Y.) Library, and Ron Tetrick of the Kokomo-Howard County (Ind.) Public Library, as well as the staffs of the Anderson (Ind.) Public Library, the Wilmington (Del.) Public Library, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Kansas Historical Society, and the National Archives.
Much of the research reflected in this database was done at the Duke University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill libraries and the Library of Congress, with side trips to the University of Michigan Library, the Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library, the New York Public Library, and the Johnson County (Kans.) Library.
A number of websites, both free and commercial, made this work much more convenient, including ancestry.com, genealogybank.com, fultonhistory.com, newspaperarchive.com, and the genealogical resources of the Mid-Continent Public Library.
Although the statistical and biographical research presented is mainly derived from contemporary sources, the work of previous Negro League historians has provided invaluable guidance and inspiration. Among the most important works in the field are James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (updated edition, 2002); Jorge Figueredo, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, and Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961 (both 2003); Dick Clark and Larry Lester, eds., The Negro Leagues Book (1994); Phil Dixon, The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History (1992); and the many books of John Holway.
A special thanks is due to Daniel Hirsch and Kevin Johnson for all their work in correcting my mistakes and preparing the database for its original appearance at The Baseball Gauge, and to Mike Lynch of Seamheads.com for his enthusiastic support of the project.