For many years the only way to measure the greatness of Negro Leagues players was during their exhibition games against their White Major League counterparts. Once Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the greatness of the players was measured during their historic run of post season awards. Former Negro Leagues players would win MVP awards in Major League Baseball 11 times, including 7 in a row from 1953 – 1959.
Continued his series of 1st’s when he won the 1949 NL MVP award, after hitting .342 with 16 HR, 124 RBI and 37 SB’s, which would lead to Negro Leagues dominance of the awards in the ‘50’s.
Would win the NL MVP in 1951 hitting .325 with 33 HR’s and 108 RBI’s. Prior to that he played 6 seasons with Washington & Baltimore of Negro Leagues signing as a 15 year old.
1953 saw Roy Campanella win his 2nd MVP hitting .312, 41 HR’s and 142 RBI’s. Jackie Robinson came in 12th & Monte Irvin 15th
Roy Campanella wins his second MVP award
Winner of the NL MVP in 1954 for the Giants hitting .345 with 41 HR’s and 110 RBI’s. Prior to playing for the Giants he would play as a teenager for the Birmingham Black Barons.
Would win his 3rd MVP in 1955 becoming the first former Negro League Player to do so, while hitting .318 with 32 HR’s and 107 RBI’s.
Roy Campanella wins his third MVP award
1956 sees Newcombe become the CY Young and MVP winner after going 27-7 with a 3.06 ERA. These two awards go with his Rookie of the Year to be the first African American with the big 3 awards. Before playing for the Dodgers, Newcombe would play in the Negro Leagues for the Newark Eagles.
Aaron would win the 1957 NL MVP for Milwaukee hitting .322 with 44 HR’s and 132 RBI’s after playing for Indianapolis in the Negro Leagues.
1958 would see Banks win the MVP, hitting .313 with 47 HR’s and 129 RBI’s. He previously played for Kansas City Monarchs – Note that Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were 2nd and 3rd in voting.
Wins his 2nd consecutive MVP for the Cubs hitting .304 with 45 HR’s and 143 RBI’s in 1959, closing out what has been a dominant 1950’s for former Negro Leagues stars.
Ernie Banks wins his 2nd MVP Award
Won the 1963 MVP award hitting 28 HR’s with a .287 avg for the Yankees. Howard previously played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.
1965 saw the final of the Negro Leagues players with MLB hardware when Mays won the 1965 MVP hitting .317 with 52 HR’s and 112 RBI’s.
Willie Mays closes out an amazing run for former Negro Leagues stars