This week we continue our celebration of Black History Month. Today is our tribute the greatness of the Negro Leagues players. How great…from the time Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, former Negro Leagues players would win MVP for Major League Baseball 11 times, including 7 in a row from 1953 – 1959.
Jackie Robinson 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.
Pictured here is Jackie as a Kansas City Monarch and Brooklyn Dodger.
Roy Campanella won 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
Willie Mays won 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.
Roy Campanella wins 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
1956 sees Don 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.
Hank Aaron wins the 1957 NL MVP for Milwaukee hitting .322 with 44 HR’s and 132 RBI’s after playing for Indianapolis in the Negro Leagues
Ernie Banks wins the MVP in 1958 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
Ernie Banks 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
Elston Howard 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 Willie Mays won the 1965 MVP hitting .317 with 52 HR’s and 112 RBI’s