Josh Gibson shakes up MLB records as Negro Leagues stats officially recognized

Josh Gibson of East is out at home in the fourth inning of the 12th annual East-West All Star Negro baseball game at Comiskey Park. Gibson was put out by Ted Radcliffe of the West.

Major League Baseball's record books look a lot different.

The league has officially recognized statistics from the Negro Leagues and incorporated them into its own data, the organization announced Wednesday. 

MLB elevated Negro League stats as "major league" in 2020, a move they said was "a longtime oversight in the game's history." 

Since then, MLB has been working with the Elias Sports Bureau in order to figure out a way to incorporate them into MLB’s history.

One player in particular, one you may have never heard of, will now be considered one of MLB's all-time greats – Josh Gibson.

Josh Gibson stats

Gibson has gone down in history as perhaps the best player to never suit up in an MLB game. He was known as the "Black Babe Ruth" during his playing career, with rumors speculating he had hit over 800 home runs in Negro and independent league play.

The MLB said Wednesday he is now the league’s all-time leader in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS and holds the all-time single-season records in each of those categories. 

Gibson became MLB’s career leader with a .372 batting average, surpassing Ty Cobb’s .367.

Gibson’s .466 average for the 1943 Homestead Grays became the season standard, followed by Charlie "Chino" Smith’s .451 for the 1929 New York Lincoln Giants. They overtook the .440 by Hugh Duffy for the National League’s Boston team in 1894.

Gibson also became the career leader in slugging percentage (.718) and OPS (1.177), moving ahead of Babe Ruth (.690 and 1.164).

Standards for season leaders is the same for Negro Leagues as the other leagues: 3.1 plate appearances or one inning for each game played by a player's team.

Gibson’s .974 slugging percentage in 1937 is now the season record, and Barry Bonds’ .863 in 2001 dropped to fifth, also trailing Mules Suttles' .877 in 1926, Gibson’s .871 in 1943 and Smith’s .870 in 1929.

RELATED: Remembering the Black men who played in the majors before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier

Despite his successes, it was Jackie Robinson, not Gibson, who broke the so-called color barrier in 1947, three months after Gibson died at the age of 35. Gibson's last professional game was the year prior, after being named a Negro League All-Star for the 12th time.

Gibson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, the same year Robinson died.

Gibson isn't threatening any cumulative numbers, as the Negro League season was much shorter than the 162 games played today — and the 154 played in the majors during his career.

His Hall of Fame plaque does read that he hit approximately 800 home runs, but given the lack of total data, and inconsistent statistics, the true number remains unknown. 

The Associated Press and FOX News Digital contributed to this report.