Negro Leagues legends to be featured in MLB The Show 23

February 6th, 2023

Negro League legends are coming to MLB The Show.

MLB The Show 23 will feature eight of the greatest Negro League players -- Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Buck O'Neil, Rube Foster, Hilton Smith, Hank Thompson, John Donaldson and Martín Dihigo -- in a new game mode called "Storylines."

Sony, which partnered with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and NLBM president Bob Kendrick to bring Negro League stars to MLB The Show, announced the new feature for the game on Monday. MLB The Show 23 will be released on March 28.

"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," Sony product development communications and brand strategist Ramone Russell said via email. "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."

The Storylines feature of MLB The Show includes a narrative experience for each Negro League legend, with short videos about the players mixed with gameplay centered on important moments of the their careers.

All eight Negro League stars will also be available in exhibition mode of MLB The Show 23, and usable in other areas of the game, which will be announced at a later date.

MLB The Show fans can get their first preview of Storylines on Thursday on Sony's San Diego Studio Twitch and YouTube channels, with Kendrick as a special guest.

"The best way I can explain it is, it's an amalgamation of a short documentary series combined with curated moments of gameplay," Russell said. "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."

Paige, Robinson, O'Neil, Foster, Smith, Thompson, Donaldson and Dihigo are just the first wave. MLB The Show 23 is Season 1 of Storylines, but every new launch of the game will introduce a new roster of Negro League legends. Next year's game will be Season 2.

Kendrick, who narrates Storylines in the game, helped MLB The Show come up with a balanced list of Negro Leaguers to introduce to the game over the multiyear project.

Sony approached MLB and the MLB Players Association about a year and a half ago about including the Negro Leagues in MLB The Show, and MLB connected them with the NLBM.

"It’s not something we took lightly, because just including these iconic players into the game without any context and proper care for the players and their stories was a nonstarter from jump street," Russell said.

He added: "It’s not enough to just include these Negro League Legends into the game, we must do it the right way."

San Diego Studio will also donate $1 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 in honor of the partnership with the NLBM.