The Negro Leagues are Major Leagues is a unique introduction to the history of the segregation of professional baseball, telling the story of the Negro Leagues while simultaneously recounting how researchers, statisticians, and historians rebuilt and rediscovered the history of Black baseball that was pushed into obscurity in the wake of Jackie Robinson and integration. Recent examinations of the partially rebuilt statistical record led scholars, notably Todd Peterson, to call for the Negro Leagues to be recognized as major leagues, alongside other historical professional major leagues such as the Federal League and the Union Association. In December 2020, Major League Baseball itself declared its recognition of the Negro Leagues as major leagues, and the work to integrate the statistics compiled by Gary Ashwill and the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database into stats site Baseball-Reference.com began.
To accompany the launch of the newly revamped, integrated site, Baseball Reference commissioned a set of articles to introduce Negro League history and the effort to rebuild the fragmented record of that history to a new audience. Supplemented here with additional articles on Black baseball from the SABR archives, the articles in this book represent multiple groups of pioneers. The contributors include descendants of Negro Leaguers, a major leaguer, and past and present giants in the field of Negro Leagues research. Larry Lester sits alongside 14-year major league veteran Adam Jones, Sean Gibson-the great-grandson of Josh Gibson and director of the Gibson Foundation-joins Vanessa Ivy Rose, the grandaughter of Turkey Stearnes, and Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Jules Tygiel and Jerry Malloy share pages with Todd Peterson, Gary Ashwill, Leslie Heaphy, Adrian Burgos, Jr., and many more.