MLB the Show franchise announced the inclusion of eight Negro League Legends into this year’s MLB the Show 23 edition of the video game. The players in the package include Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil, Rube Foster, Hilton Smith, Hank Thompson, John Donaldson and Martín Dihigo. The legendary Negro Leaguers will be apart of a game mode called “Storylines”.
MLB The Show 23 Adds Negro League Greats
This has been the latest efforts of Major League Baseball to acknowledge their complicated history with the Negro Leagues in the past few years. Back in December 2020, Major League Baseball announced the addition of Negro League statistics into their official records.
MLB the Show video game developer Sony partnered with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and its President Bob Kendrick, to add the legendary Negro Leaguers into the video game. Sony brand strategist Ramone Russell released a statement to the media regarding the addition of the historical players.
“The Negro Leagues are an important part of baseball and American history, whose iconic figures are not nearly as well known as other baseball players of the era,” Russell said. “We’ve thought about introducing the Negro Leagues into MLB The Show for years, but we needed to figure out how to do it the right way for an interactive medium.”
Russell also expounded on what to expect in the new Storyline feature.
“The best way I can explain it is, it’s an amalgamation of a short documentary series combined with curated moments of gameplay. Each of the eight players has a storyline, and the coolest part is learning about these players then immediately being able to play as them in the game. That transition from the images and video to the on-field gameplay experience is powerful and immersive. The ambiance is carried through, from the uniforms to the crowd and everything in between.”
New Roster Of Negro League Stars Each Season
The new immersive game mode will not be a one-off addition. Next year’s MLB the Show will include a new roster of Negro League players who will be implemented in Season Two of Storylines. Along with the inclusion of the Negro League players, Sony’s San Diego Studios announced a donation of one dollar to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for every MLB The Show 23 Collector’s Edition sold in the U.S. from now through the end of 2023.
The inclusion of Negro Leaguers in the MLB the Show franchise displays a new creative attempt to bring awareness to these revered players of the past who were shunned from the Major Leagues and unable to show their talents on the pro level in the height of the Jim Crow Era. Talented players such as Satchel Paige, who did not get to make his Major League debut until the age of 42, will have their stories told to a new generation of baseball fans. Paige himself was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 via the Negro League Committee.
It’s our honor to bring the Negro Leagues to MLB The Show 23! In partnership with the @NLBMuseumKC and president @nlbmprez we invite you on a journey to celebrate the Negro Leagues and their stories of triumph over adversity in a new game experience! pic.twitter.com/8D50kKBWt8
— MLB The Show (@MLBTheShow) February 6, 2023
The Negro Leagues were created due to the harsh racist climate that persisted in America which denied Blacks the opportunities to compete with their white counterparts. The first Negro League was formed in 1887, just twenty-four years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 while the last great league folded in 1951. That is nearly sixty-four years of Black players being forced to compete under the “separate but equal” doctrine.
Major League Baseball has made considerable efforts throughout the years to acknowledge Negro League players by inducting players in the Hall of Fame and integrating Negro League statistics into their record books.
Now in 2023, fans will be familiar with the Negro Leaguers through video game play, giving fans an interactive lesson on baseball history. Black players who were once denied the opportunity to play on Major League fields will now be represented on every baseball fans’ video game console.