Major League Baseball does a great job of honoring its past, even those who, unfortunately, weren't allowed to be part of it.
The annual April celebration of Jackie Robinson Day serves as a two-fold remembrance of a great player and civic hero. It is also a stark reminder of the African-American players who came before Robinson and were too old to compete when baseball's color barrier was broken in 1947.
Friday, the Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros will play in the 2014 Civil Rights Game at Minute Maid Park. This event sheds a yearly light on the past, present and future of civil rights in America and professional sports. In the wake of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's removal from the NBA, professional sports can use a night like this to express the positive.
When tuning in to the Houston-Baltimore tilt, don't just focus on Robinson, the Civil Rights movement or the great, dynamic African-American players of today. Instead, take a few minutes to remember the history of the Negro Leagues and the great players who took the field long before Robinson was a household name in America.
The following highlights the best stars who never had the opportunity to compete in Major League Baseball, ranked using a combination of long-term impact, anecdotes and statistics.
All statistics courtesy of MLB.com or Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.