MLB The Show 23
The Negro Leagues Finally Come to MLB The Show
Baseball has long been known as America’s pastime. As society has evolved and grown, baseball has been by its side with every step. No matter the political atmosphere or socioeconomic climate, baseball has been an undying force quintessential to the American spirit. That side-by-side relationship between baseball and American society also included segregation. As color barriers prevented all men from playing Major League Baseball, the Negro Leagues formed out of necessity. And it was there that the legend of many historical players began and became a part of baseball history.
Negro Leagues Finally Come To MLB The Show
In 1920, the Negro National League was officially founded. Featuring African American and Latin American players, The Negro Leagues birth led to some of the most legendary players in baseball history getting a chance to play professionally. For the next century, all Negro League stats, accomplishments and players were still separated from the rest of MLB history. Two distinct leagues, MLB and the Negro Leagues, telling separate stories that should have always been unified.
Then, in December of 2020, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that MLB would finally elevate the Negro Leagues to “Major League” status. That meant that all Negro League statistics from 1920-1948 would be recognized by MLB and become enshrined in MLB history. Furthermore, it meant that the story of baseball could be told as one moving forward. There’s still plenty of steps to get to that point, and learning about the Negro Leagues and its stars is part of that process.
That’s what makes the inclusion of Storylines in MLB The Show 23 so exciting. Even without knowing the full details of the mode (until tonight), Storylines mode promises to deliver the amazing stories of eight of the most prominent Negro League stars. There’s been many of us in The Show community who longed for the Negro Leagues to be a part of MLB The Show. There are many stars who have become household names like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Jackie Robinson. Their incredible talent and prowess on the diamond has long been known to generations of baseball fans.
But there are countless other Negro League players who deserve to have their stories told as well. With the promise of MLB The Show releasing new seasons of Storylines with each game release, we’re essentially getting an ongoing educational deep dive. I love baseball and adore the history of the game, so having the ability to learn about these men in an interactive setting is truly groundbreaking. Regardless of what Storylines ends up being, the inclusion of Negro League legends is a pivotal development for MLB The Show. This is one of the most exciting additions to any video game I’ve seen.
Impact Of The Negro Leagues In MLB The Show
Telling the stories of Negro League stars and their respective journeys contributes to bringing baseball full circle. We can’t talk about the history of the game without acknowledging the unfortunate segregation that clouded baseball and American society. With the Negro Leagues being designated as Major Leagues, it’s important to truly incorporate these stories into baseball fandom. It would be one thing to simply tally stats from the Negro Leagues and include them in MLB records. But telling the story of black baseball in America starts with the pioneers and the effect their determination had on the game of baseball.
I grew up in the ’90s reading about baseball every chance I had. Every trip to the school library led to me borrowing a new baseball book each week. I received handfuls of baseball books for Christmas over the years and loved reading about baseball history. I was fascinated with players from a vintage that I never had a chance to see myself. All the legends we all know about like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, and Henry Aaron. I had a fascination with Vida Blue and even started collecting his baseball cards when I saw them at card shows or my local card shop.
But the Negro Leagues weren’t as prominent in these readings. Not that they weren’t included, but I only really knew of a couple players. I knew Jackie Robinson’s story but didn’t process the significance at such a young age. It was Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson who got talked about the most — and for good reason. They were considered two of the very best the Negro Leagues had to offer and were marketable stars in their day. But the myths that developed around these men had me enthralled from day one.
I remember reading about Gibson’s legendary 580-foot HR at Yankee Stadium. Even if the ball didn’t actually travel that far, Gibson’s prowess for power was built into his legend so deeply that it didn’t matter.
My favorite? The story that Josh Gibson hit a ball so far in Pittsburgh that it was never seen and declared a home run. The next day in Philadelphia, a ball mysteriously dropped from the sky and was caught in center field. The umpire gestured to Gibson and declared that Gibson was out — in Pittsburgh the day before. I couldn’t remember exactly where this story came from that I read, but it’s stuck with me all these years. While searching for it, I came across this article by Rob Neyer where he was writing about these exact stories. That article came out 15 years ago! I had read these stories even longer ago, but they were so iconic that they were embedded into my baseball brain.
My hope is that Storylines provides a similar experience. Even if there’s embellishments in the stories, that’s part of what makes them legends. I would love to recreate that mythological home run with Josh Gibson. Even if it’s in Season 2 within MLB The Show 24. He isn’t currently announced as being in the game, but I’d bet we see him sooner or later (Live Series collection reward?). I’d also love to play along with Satchel Paige during key moments of his long career. Most of all, I hope Storylines provides folks with lasting memories from baseball history. I genuinely get excited thinking back to my youth, reading these thick baseball books, and absorbing as much as I could. There will be young kids playing through this game experience when MLB The Show 23 launches, and I hope they enjoy the history of baseball as much as I did.
Whether you’re a Diamond Dynasty addict, franchise fanatic, or something in between, the inclusion of the Negro Leagues in MLB The Show 23 is a huge moment. Sure, getting licensed player likenesses and being able to use Negro League stars is a big deal in its own right. But the promise and potential of Storylines is one of the most exciting developments in MLB The Show history. The players, the uniforms, the stadiums, the equipment, and every other detail in unison will bring the Negro Leagues to life.
MLB The Show 23 is just the beginning.