Major League Baseball is elevating the Negro Leagues of 1920-1948 to "Major League" status, "correcting a longtime oversight in the game's history," commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday.
"All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game's best players, innovations and triumphs against a backdrop of injustice," Manfred said in a statement.
"We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record."
The move, which is the culmination of MLB's centennial celebration of the Negro Leagues in 2020, will see the statistics and records from seven professional Negro Leagues that operated from 1920-1948 integrated into the MLB record books and include approximately 3,400 players as part of official MLB history.
Black players unable to compete in MLB due to racism and segregation laws competed professionally in the Negro Leagues around the United States.
Jackie Robinson was a Negro League star for the Kansas City Monarchs before breaking modern baseball's color barrier when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
"In the minds of baseball fans worldwide, this serves as historical validation for those who had been shunned from the Major Leagues and had the foresight and courage to create their own league that helped change the game and our country too," Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, said in a statement.
MLB said it had begun a review process with the Elias Sports Bureau "to determine the full scope of this designation's ramifications on statistics and records."