Larry DobyLawrence Eugene Doby
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1998
Primary team: Cleveland Indians
Primary position: Center Fielder
Perhaps no one is more remembered for being second than Larry Doby. He was the second African-American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era after Jackie Robinson. He was the second African-American manager of a major league club after Frank Robinson. He may have been second in those two regards, but Larry Doby was so much more.
Larry Doby began his baseball career as a star infielder for the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League and was also the first African-American player to play professional basketball in the ABL, the precursor to the NBA. After taking time out from professional sports to serve in the United States Navy during WWII, Doby returned to the NNL and led the Eagles to the Negro leagues championship in 1946.
In 1947, only a few months after Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck signed Doby and he became the first African-American player in the American League. Doby suffered the same indignities as Jackie Robinson, but his struggles did not get the media attention Robinson’s received. Whether it was being forced to stay in separate hotels or eat in separate restaurants on the road, or not being accepted by some of his teammates, Doby persevered. Teammate Mel Harder recalled “it may have (bothered Doby), but he never complained to the players, when he joined, naturally it was a tough time. But after he was with us a while he got along pretty good”.
His first major league manager Lou Boudreau recalled “Larry proved to them (the other players) that he was a major leaguer in handling himself in more ways than one—on the field and off the field”. In 1948, his sophomore campaign in the big leagues, Doby became the first African-American to hit a home run in World Series play. On April 12, 1950, Doby hit the first home run of the decade in the major leagues. In 1952 the slugging centerfielder became the first African-American to lead either league in home runs.
During his time in the Major Leagues, Doby was a seven time All-Star and put together five-100 RBI and eight-20 home run seasons. In 1978, the same man who gave him his shot as a player in the major leagues in 1947, Bill Veeck, hired him to manage his Chicago White Sox.
Upon his death in 2003, President George W. Bush remarked “Larry Doby was a good and honorable man, and a tremendous athlete and manager. He had a profound influence on the game of baseball”.
Year Inducted: 1998
Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
Position Played: Center Fielder
Birth place: Camden, South Carolina
Birth year: 1923
Died: 2003, Montclair, New Jersey
Newark Eagles (1942-1944)
Newark Eagles (1946-1947)
Cleveland Indians (1947-1955)
Chicago White Sox (1956-1957)
Cleveland Indians (1958)
Detroit Tigers (1959)
Chicago White Sox (1959)
Chicago White Sox (1978)
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