Player Directory, combined MLB-NLB

Player Directory, combined MLB-NLB


3/18/2022 Update: You can view and download the data connected to a final total of 18,855 MLB/NLB qualified players (1871-2020) right here on this page. The current plan is to make available all of the site-wide download opportunities for free as we (that is, I) proceed with all 150 birthplace-based season-simulations (historic “replays”). After that is accomplished and all of the results are ready to be released, a book/books may be published, so at that time, the free downloads will probably cease (when I finally ask for token remuneration for all of my work). But between now and then, I’ve got a lot of replayin’ on my plate, so explore this site for all its worth.


At last check of the home page, the total number of major-league baseball players who have appeared in officially-sanctioned league games is 22,564 (through the end of the 2021 season). If we use the 2021 debuts page to determine what the player count would’ve been before the 2021 season began, we can subtract 265 (number of ’21 debuts) from 22,564, and we get to an all-eras, pre-2021 total MLB player count (by the official definition that since 2020/21 has included players from 7 specific Negro League Baseball (NLB) leagues) of 22,299. This number affords us a baseline for direct comparison with the combined MLB-NLB all-eras player directory, where we find that a total of 18,855 qualified players have been catalogued/registered from 1871 through 2020; note that word, “qualified,” since it explains the greater part of the discrepancy between the two “comprehensive” player directories. How so? And what other factors are involved? Here’s the explanation:

1. In the official MLB directory, all players credited with even just one appearance in a regular-season game are included; in the RetroPlay system — mostly in order to facilitate fantasy-league replays/ simulations, where one plate appearance or a third of an inning pitched or a pinch-running assignment doesn’t really help — “qualified” players are subject to the following minimums: either 10(+) plate appearances or 9(+) innings pitched in a single season (NOT career totals), and two names that can help to identify a player as a unique, historic individual (sorry, but “Smith” or “Jones” or “Lenny B.” or “Rumpel-stiltskin” won’t work in this league). These screens eliminate probably thousands of players (they could be shaved off that total of 22,299, and bring the two player counts much closer together when the dust settles); [Technical note for you nitpickers: I did find one “full-named” player who did accrue 10 plate appearances in a single season (he had exactly 12), but was nonetheless excluded for this reason: he had zero hits, so all of his averages (batting, on-base, slugging, OPS, etc.) came to .000 ; no stats to use for season replay simulations, an “automatic out” for his team. It should be said, though, he was still better than I ever was];

2. On the plus side, where the RetroPlay directory will show more entries in a specific category than the Baseball-Reference/official MLB directory does, we can look at the number of Negro League players included. Going by the definition of what constituted genuine NLB competition that was on par with the traditional Major Leagues — in their website nomenclature, [games played] “[vs] Negro Leagues” — there were several teams outside of the 7 (seven) leagues recognized in 2020/21 by MLB that included dozens/hundreds (?) of players who possibly/likely played at the same level as some of those who participated in the “Select Seven”; prime example: the [Negro] Western Independent teams are not listed among the seven leagues’-worth, but the Seamheads guys seem to regard their players as worthy NLB competitors, so I’ll follow their lead (Western Independents-NLB interaction is recognized here, so Western League/Independents players are included in the RetroPlay directory as well);

3. Summarizing: Re: players NOT listed here (although included in the MLB directory), either they lacked full-name I.D. or failed to meet minimum appearance requirements. In the small handful of cases where “full-name” players didn’t have birthplaces listed (this occurred only in 19th Century records), an “educated guess” was made based on the rest of the available info on the player, so nobody was eliminated for lacking reliable birthplace data. Re: “extra” NLB players listed here, but not in the MLB directory, see text in the preceding paragraph.


(18,855 RetroPlay-QUALIFIED PLAYERS FROM 1871 THROUGH 2020)

Below, in order, please find — for your viewing/free-downloading pleasure — the following mega-files;

  1. OBL 1-5 (All-Eras) Alphabetical and Regional side-by-side scroll-type file (Excel version) 420 pages
  2. OBL 1-5 (All-Eras) Alphabetical and Regional side-by-side scroll-type file (PDF version) 420 pages



Maybe those files are too large or unwieldy? Here are two side-by-side Alphabetical-only file versions;

  1. All-Eras OBL Alphabetical (side-by-side scrolls, A-K & L-Z) — Excel spreadsheet version (210 pages)
  2. All-Eras OBL Alphabetical (side-by-side scrolls, A-K & L-Z) — PDF version (210 pages)

Well, there you have two (or four?) different ways to view info on all 18,855 MLB-NLB players in the RetroPlay system, all on one webpage.

Some closing thoughts on the merits of this “massive-yet-concise” directory (in any version):

A) It’s my hope that you’ll realize that here we have 84-85% of the players presented by official Major League Baseball sources and online info-vendors (e.g.,; those included in the RetroPlay system are the players that will make any simulation/replay effort “work” (with all due respect to any men who reached the MLB/NLB level, in a stat-based replay environment such as this, those with insufficient data add (numerical) bulk and clutter, but not clarity to the data).

B. Keeping such considerations in mind, this handy, at-your-fingertips 210-page/420-page resource goes a long way toward replacing the need for a 2,000-page (on-average) hard-copy Baseball Encyclopedia, OR…. for making thousands of visits to widely-scattered online resource pages to gather the same data (which I’ve already done for you). The point: if what you’re looking for is info re: birthplace (and connected teammates); WAR values, both career totals and season-by-season (via the grids, available by linking to this page); production rates and performance comparisons/rankings within various categories, then everything you need is available right here on this site. Certainly, it’s true that for traditional counting stats, batting/throwing “handedness” or height and weight data (wildly unreliable, BTW, since weight usually fluctuates quite a bit over the course of a long career; I’m looking at you, Babe…), other online resources will continue to be your go-to sites. As a matter of fact, and in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll still need to consult my print resources (e.g., Baseball Encylopedias and Bill James Handbooks) for games-played data to ensure season-long coverage during my season replays/simulations. But otherwise, for my own RetroPlay project needs (and for anyone else interested in this birthplace-based, chronologically-oriented approach to “viewing baseball history through an entirely new lens”), this setup will suffice. There’s a lot of “mental fun” to be had by making use of what’s offered here on this page and throughout this site.

As of Friday night, 3/18/2022, other than possibly posting smaller sub-directories here, there’s nothing else planned for this particular page. For comprehensive player rankings, that page will be your best bet (you can use the link provided in the text directly above). I’ll be doing more “Opening Day” work on the other pages before this week is out; it’s time to move on in this session…

[Downloads available on this page = 4 macro-files; 1,260 potentially-printable pages]