Irvin's limited Major League career in the 1950's had quality and I'm certain accounts of his strong Negro League play were correct.
Accounts of Irvin also say he had the smarts & toughness to have been the first Black player in the Major Leagues and that he was considered for that role.
The absence of solid Negro League statistics, however unfairly, makes the full skills of players like Irvin impossible to fully assess. This fact is a big hole in being able to assess in proper context the skills of all Major Leaguers.
Shades of Glory is a useful book to learn more about Negro League history.
Here is a short biography of Irvin from the Society for American Baseball Research.
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