- The Negro League Baseball Museum is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball.
- Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Jackie Robinson, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Hilton Smith, Hank Thompson, John Donaldson, Martin Dihigo, and John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil will be the players featured in Storylines: Season 1.
- MLB The Show 23 is now available for digital pre-order on the Xbox Store in a variety of versions, including Standard, Digital Deluxe, and will be available to play day one with Xbox Game Pass on March 28, 2023.
As a tremendous fan of baseball, I was thrilled to see the news that MLB The Show 23 is bringing a new feature to the upcoming game known as “Storylines: The Negro Leagues.” For this first season, many of the league’s greatest stars will be profiled in a new interactive mode in partnership with the Negro League Baseball Museum and their President Bob Kendrick, a national institution dedicated to preserving the rich history of Black baseball and its impact on America.
Because of racist segregation laws at the time, Black Americans were not allowed to play alongside white players or participate in Major League Baseball. To counter that, Rube Foster — an amazing player in his own right and founder of the Chicago American Giants — lead the formation with other Black club owners to create the Negro National League in 1920, giving an avenue for Black people to play organized baseball. The result gave us some of the greatest legends to ever play the game, many of which we as gamers will learn more about in this new Storylines feature for MLB The Show 23.
We had a chance to catch up with Communications and Brand Strategist at San Diego Studio, Ramone Russell and talked about how MLB The Show 23 plans to use an interactive medium to tell this powerful piece of American history, the ways in which it fits within the framework of the game, and what future iterations of this mode may look like in following seasons.
“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,” explains Russell. “We plan to use MLB The Show and the interactive medium which is gaming as a gateway; a gateway to expose new generations of baseball fans to these historic figures and their stories of triumph over adversity.”
“Storylines is a new game experience in MLB The Show 23,” continues Russell. “It will lead gamers through a sequential narrative focusing on a single player, watching short informational videos about the player. After which they will play as them in Moments to reflect on important events in that player’s career.”
Obviously, part of what makes this such an incredible journey for these players are the social hardships they endured, overcoming significant adversity in their professional and personal lives. It was refreshing to hear that this ‘gateway’ to the past aims to be very honest in its telling of these players’ history.
“We don’t gloss over the adversity they faced or the ugliness of American segregation during that time,” says Russell. “But MLB The Show is an E-rated game and 100% of the storytelling is done by our narrator, Negro League Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick.”
Founded in 1990, the Negro League Baseball Museum, as described on its official site, is “the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its profound impact on the social advancement of America.” Bob Kendrick, who first began working with the NLBM as a volunteer in the early ‘90s and was later named President in 2011, has been responsible for many of the museum’s educational programs, events, and more.
As part of his role with the museum, Kendrick has been a tremendous advocate for telling the history of the Negro Leagues and sharing stories about many of its legendary players, many of which will be featured in the Season 1 Storylines roster that will include Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Jackie Robinson, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Hilton Smith, Hank Thompson, John Donaldson, Martín Dihigo, and John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil. Having someone like Kendrick front and center will lend a degree of authenticity to this feature that fans of baseball are sure to appreciate.
In addition, as part of this historic partnership with the NLBM, MLB The Show and San Diego Studio are donating $1 to the museum for every MLB The Show 23 Digital Deluxe Edition or The Captain Edition sold in the United States through December 31, 2023.
In talking more about how this partnership came to be, Russell indicated that this has been something the San Diego Studio, which has been developing MLB The Show for nearly two decades, has wanted to do for a very long time — it was just a matter of finding the right partner to tell the story the team envisioned and to do it the right way.
“The Negro Leagues are not only an important part of baseball history; more importantly they are crucial part of American history,” explains Russell. “The inspiration to introduce the Negro Leagues into MLB The Show has always been there, however we never had a good grasp on how to do it and that’s always been the conundrum. The stars aligned and we finally figured out a way to do it the right way.”
Best of all, this is just the beginning of this new Storylines feature for MLB The Show. Next year’s release will feature a new group of Negro League Legends and will profile their unique stories of grit, grace, and triumph in the face of adversity.
“The Storylines feature is a vehicle we created to tell meaningful stories in the baseball universe with a controller in your hand,” says Russell. “The possibilities are endless; however, our focus right now is on the Negro Leagues. It’s going to take us years to properly tell their stories with the respect, dignity, admiration, and appreciation they deserve.
In asking what he hopes people will take away from this new gameplay feature, Russell summed it up succinctly.
“We hope everyone who plays Storylines walks away feeling inspired, educated, and enlightened by these stories,” he says. “Anything past that is a bonus.”
MLB The Show 23 is available for pre-order today for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and will be available day one with Xbox Game Pass on March 28, 2023. We’ll have more exciting news to share soon about MLB The Show 23 here on Xbox Wire, so stay tuned!
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