SABR forms new Special Negro Leagues and Teams Committee for further study, recommendations

SABR logo

AUGUST 17, 2023 — Following up on the work of SABR’s Negro League Task Force, which recommended the recognition of seven Negro Leagues as major leagues, a new Special Negro Leagues and Teams Committee has been convened to study other leagues and teams from Black baseball history. 

The new committee will be co-chaired by award-winning authors James Brunson III and Todd Peterson, along with SABR Board President Mark Armour and historian Gary Gillette. The group plans to create three sub-committees to study pre-1920 teams and leagues, independent teams from 1920 to 1948, and the post-1948 Negro American League.

The full group includes more than 30 esteemed researchers and historians who have actively contributed to the literature and statistical record of the Negro Leagues. In addition to the chairs, the group will also include: Thomas Aiello, Rebecca T. Alpert, Gary Ashwill, Todd Bolton, Milbert Brown Jr., Adrian Burgos Jr., Alan Cohen, Robert Cottrell, Adam Darowski, Craig Davidson, Paul Debono, Phil S. Dixon, Gary Fink, Duke Goldman, Pete Gorton, Steven Greenes, Michael Haupert, Leslie Heaphy, Sherman Jenkins, Kevin Johnson, Tony Kissel, Ted Knorr, Philip Lee, Stephanie Liscio, Michael Lomax, Gary Mitchem, Rob Neyer, James Overmyer, Bill Plott, Jacob Pomrenke, Rich Puerzer, Donn Rogosin, Courtney Michelle Smith, Paul Spyhalski, and Shakeia Taylor.

“Our vision is that the committee will operate transparently with a predetermined set of criteria,” Peterson said. “I consider this to be a vitally important and serious endeavor, and we will do our best to ensure that our findings are presented in a sound and logically compelling fashion.”

Peterson says the committee plans to announce more recommendations by Opening Day 2024.

The Negro Leagues Family Alliance and other baseball community stakeholders will form a group to  provide input and feedback to the Special Negro Leagues and Teams Committee. 

“The continued study of segregated baseball is essential to ensure an accurate portrayal of our game’s history,” said SABR CEO Scott Bush. “This committee is filled with some of the field’s foremost experts and I am excited for their recommendations, which will take into account feedback and input from a collection of community stakeholders.”  

SABR’s Negro Leagues Task Force was originally formed in the fall of 2020 to make recommendations on which Black leagues from baseball’s segregated era should be recognized as major leagues, and to advise how SABR should change its internal workings to reflect this determination. The task force issued its recommendations on seven major Negro Leagues in February 2021. SABR has also incorporated biographical data from the award-winning Seamheads Negro Leagues Database into the SABR BioProject and will be revising the SABR Style Guide to explain how the terms “Major League” and “major league” should be used.

Originally published: August 17, 2023. Last Updated: December 6, 2023.