The latest edition of the MLB The Show video game is now available, and MLB The Show 23 comes with a lot of new features. One particularly remarkable one is the inclusion of eight Negro Leagues legends in the Storylines mode. This season, the first of several planned ones, includes narrations from Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick, and much more:
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum plans to use @MLBTheShow as a gateway to expose new generations of baseball fans to these historic figures and their stories of triumph over adversity.
Welcome the unsung heroes of the Negro Leagues to #MLBTheShow23! pic.twitter.com/OjGt2OFRWi
— Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (@NLBMuseumKC) March 27, 2023
Storylines, a new Game Experience celebrating The Negro Leagues Season 1.@nlbmprez @NLBMuseumKC #MLBTheShow pic.twitter.com/5mRZzrnlxi
— MLB The Show (@MLBTheShow) March 29, 2023
On a media call Tuesday, MLB chief operations and strategy officer Chris Marinak discussed how important it was for them to feature Negro Leagues content here, and how it’s part of an ongoing plan for them:
“One of the opportunities that MLB The Show provides for our fans is an ability to kind of bring history forward and give an opportunity for you to both play as some players you’ve maybe never seen before and hear the stories and authentic history of the game without it being too educational, still having something where it’s fun. And this year, Sony worked very closely with Bob Kendrick and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to tell the stories of eight players from the Negro Leagues, and tell those stories in an authentic way.”
“And Bob Kendrick did an incredible job narrating that, and working very closely with the MLB The Show team, and telling the story in an authentic way, and bringing history back for these young fans. This will be the first of many seasons, so next year, there will be another storytelling of the Negro Leagues and the history there, and we’re pretty excited about that.”
A review from Owen Good at Polygon illustrates just how much of a jump this particular addition is. Here are a couple of highlights from that:
It really takes an interactive museum exhibit, which Storylines: The Negro Leagues is, to understand what the stars of baseball’s segregated leagues accomplished in their time. “What they went through” is a topic explored by more competent authorities in film and book. But what they actually did hasn’t been embraced — in the same fashion as Willie Mays’ basket catch or Hank Aaron’s 715th home run — until now, simply because there is no visual record of it. MLB The Show 23 supplies that proof.
And it’s delightful. Oh, for sure, many of these scripted moments are easy for anyone to pull off if they’ve been playing MLB The Show for two or three years and know anything about baseball. But come on: Pitching as Satchel Paige, with all of his infielders kneeling at the mound like he’s reading a bedtime story — with a runner on first base, I might add? That’s a blast. It’s awesome, even if you know you can’t help but make the batting order of NPCs look silly with Satchel’s “bee-ball” and “dipsy-do” deliveries.
So it’s quite notable to see this jump. And it will be interesting to see how it’s received.