Less than a week into the MLB regular season, trailblazing infielder Jackie Robinson and other legends from baseball’s past are in the spotlight in a unique way — just like the characters of a video game.
The eight biggest players from the Negro Leagues are the focus of the new game mode MLB: The Show 23, The latest edition of the popular console franchise released on March 28. In “Storylines: Negro Leagues,” players can take the field through pivotal moments in careers like Robinson and Satchel Paige and learn about them through short video clips.
In the 1920s, the media company owned media in Kansas City, Missouri, and He founded the Negro National Leaguewhich in turn inspired other leagues for non-white players over the next two decades. These provided the first opportunities to play for baseball players of color until Robinson broke the major league color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
“The way the Negro League players played, it’s perfectly suited to the video game,” said Negro Leagues Baseball President Bob Kendrick of the Museum he said the Associated Press. Kendrick narrates “Storylines,” which marks the first video game featuring these Negro League players since 2005.
Here’s a rundown of the eight Negro Leagues players featured MLB: The Show 23.
Robinson played just one season in the Negro American League with the Kansas State Monarchs, appearing in only about half a game in 1945; according to the Baseball Almanac. He hit .487 and managed to steal four bases in just 47 games.
But the 28-year-old from Cairo, Georgia, changed baseball for the better when he took the field on April 15, 1947, as the first Black player in the major leagues. Robinson and his family faced harassment from opponents and fans, but the speedy infielder helped the Dodgers win the pennant and received Rookie of the Year honors.
Robinson died at age 53 in 1972 of heart disease and complications from diabetes. MLB got his number back—No. 42-in 1997 and celebrates his legacy every year on the anniversary of his first Dodgers game as Jackie Robinson Day.
More about Jackie Robinson
Paige—born July 7, 1906 in Mobile, Alabama—played in the Negro Leagues from 1926 to 1947. Between team commitments and other horrendous opportunities, the pitcher pitched in hundreds of games a year, overwhelming hitters with a buggy-whip fastball. according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Paige made his major league debut in 1948 at age 42 with the Cleveland Indians (now the Guardians) and became the first black pitcher in World Series history that same year. Paige was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1971. He died on June 8, 1982, at age 75;
Learn about Sling Paige
Andrew “Rube” Foster is considered the “father of black baseball” for his success as a manager and executive. But he once won 44 games as a pitcher and led the Cuban X Giants to the 1903 “color world championship.”
Foster, born September 17, 1879 in Calvert, Texas, spearheaded the formation of the National League in 1920 and was named its president and treasurer. profile in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1926, while managing the American Giants NNL team, Foster suffered a nervous breakdown. He died four years later on December 9, 1930, at the age of 51. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.
Born November 13, 1911, in Carabelle, Florida, Buck O’Neil was known for his light defense at first base. He pitched before joining the Memphis Red Sox of the American League in 1937 according to MLB.com.
O’Neil served two years in the US Navy during World War II and, on his return, won the league title in 1946. He was a three-day Negro American League All-Star.
O’Neil also made history as the first Black member of a major league staff with the Chicago Cubs in 1962. He died in 2006 at 94 and was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022.
Born on February 27, 1907, in Giddings, Texas, Hilton Smith had a devastating fastball and what many consider the best catching curve in the Negro Leagues, according to on the National Baseball Hall of Fame board.
He won 20 or more games in each of his 12 seasons with the Kansas City Monarchs and often applied in relief to teammate Satchel Paige, who was asked to help draw the crowd almost every day.
Smith died on November 18, 1983, aged 76.
Hank Thompson, born in Oklahoma City on December 8, 1925, played four seasons with the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1940s and spent two years in the US Army during World War II, according to his Negro Leagues Baseball Museum profile”. Primarily in the field at third base, but could also play in the outfield.
Like Robinson, Thompson broke the color barrier for two major league teams: the. St. Louis Browns in 1947 and the New York Giants in 1949. He helped the Giants win the 1954 World Series with teammate Willie Mays, who made his famous over the shoulder. taking in Game .1.
After retirement, Thompson drove a taxi in New York and died of complications from a seizure in 1969 at the age of 43.
Martín Dihigo, born May 25, 1905, in Cidra, Cuba, is known as “El Maestro” and is the only person inducted into the American, Mexican and Cuban halls of fame.
Playing in the Negro Leagues from 1923 through 1947, Dihigo could be a man in the infield, outfield, or pitch. Second entry into the National Baseball Hall of Famehe sees the arms of the shooters with a strong arm.
Dihigo also spoke fluent English and was very friendly with his teammates, often sharing stories and baseball knowledge. He died on May 20, 1971, just shy of his 66th birthday.
John Donaldson was born on February 20, 1891 in Glasgow, Missouri. The founder of the Kansas City Monarchs, he played only about two seasons in the Negro National League; according to MLB.com. However, there are probably at least 683 overseas cities in North America for the warehouse.
Donaldson played in the All Nations Team from 1912 through 1917 and again in 1923 and ’24. The team consisted of men and one of all genders from the American Midwest, Hawaii, Cuba, Japan and Latin America. The urn has hit 500 or more in three consecutive years.
Donaldson played in his last baseball game at the age of 58 in 1949, going three hitless innings. He died in 1970 at the age of 79.
Associate News Editor, Biography.com
Tacitus joined Piccotte biography.com ambassador in 2023, and before that he had worked for almost eight years as a journalist, reporter and editor. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, an avid sports fan, frequent filmmaker, and trivia buff.