Two years before Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he was an upcoming shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs.
Robinson, who is renowned for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, was barnstorming across the country waiting for a chance. He dreamed of professional baseball at the highest level and found solace in the Negro Leagues to showcase his skills.
Most baseball fans know Robinson’s story. The MLB Hall of Famer represented a beacon of hope for Black athletes. His No. 42 jersey is unanimously retired and celebrated every April. However, there is an entire collection of forgotten Black ball players.
This year, "MLB The Show 23" is shining a light on those athletes.
The popular video game franchise will highlight the Negro Leagues and their illustrious lineage. In its upcoming edition, "MLB The Show 23" will introduce a new storyline mode that will focus exclusively on stars from the Negro Leagues.
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: Season One'
Named “The Negro Leagues: Season One,” the storyline will provide an inside look at key players throughout history. The inaugural season will feature Robinson, Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Hilton Smith, Hank Thompson, John Donaldson, Martín Dihigo and John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil.
Fans will be able to relive each player’s journey through the Negro Leagues. The storyline will introduce the players through informational videos and interactive game play. The new mode will also allow for opportunities to utilize the players across different aspects of "MLB The Show 23."
"MLB The Show 23" will release March 28.
What are the Negro leagues?
The Negro National League was founded in 1920 under the direction of Rube Foster. The league began at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri.
Foster, who was the owner of the Chicago American Giants, helped craft a league with eight original teams. The other teams were the Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABCs, Kansas City Monarchs, St. Louis Giants (later renamed St. Louis Stars), Dayton Marcos, Cuban Stars and Chicago Giants.
The Negro National League was born to give opportunities to Black baseball players. Due to the MLB restricting Black players from joining, the teams had to travel across the country to play in front of fans.
In the following years, the league continued to evolve and competing leagues assembled. Leagues folded during the Great Depression and new leagues were formed. Franchises were renamed and new teams created, such as the Pittsburgh Crawfords, Birmingham Black Barons and the Memphis Red Sox, among others.
The Leagues featured many unheralded superstars. The list includes Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Minnie Miñoso, Walter C. “Steel Arm” Davis, Willie Wells, Jud Wilson and Don Newcombe. Toni Stone Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and Connie Morgan — three women who played in the Negro leagues — also made a significant impact.
Robinson and Paige led the way as breakthrough MLB stars, alongside Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Larry Doby and Roy Campanella.
The Negro leagues were active for about 30 years, coming to an end soon after Robinson broke through the MLB's color barrier and paved the way for desegregation in baseball. The Indianapolis Clowns were the last Negro leagues team to remain and continued playing exhibitions until the 1980s.
What is MLB The Show?
"MLB The Show" is developed by San Diego Studio. "MLB The Show 23" will feature cover athlete and Miami Marlins star Jazz Chisholm. The game will be available on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
There will also be a collector’s edition that features MLB Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. MLB The Show and San Diego Studio will donate $1 to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for every "MLB The Show 23" Collector’s Edition sold through Dec. 31, 2023.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'MLB The Show 23' to honor the Negro leagues' rich history