Larry Doby, Cleveland Indians
Lawrence Eugene Doby (December 13, 1923 – June 18, 2003) was an American professional baseball player in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball (MLB) who was the second black player to break baseball’s color barrier. A native of Camden, South Carolina and three-sport all-state athlete while in high school in Paterson, New Jersey, Doby accepted a basketball scholarship from Long Island University. At 17 years of age, he began his professional baseball career with the Newark Eagles as the team’s second baseman. Doby joined the United States Navy during World War II. His military service complete, Doby returned to baseball in 1946, and along with teammate Monte Irvin, helped the Eagles win the Negro League World Series.
In July 1947—three months after Jackie Robinson made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers—Doby broke the MLB color barrier in the American League when he signed a contract to play with Bill Veeck‘s Cleveland Indians. Doby was the first player to go directly to the majors from the Negro leagues. A seven-time All-Star center fielder, Doby and teammate Satchel Paige were the first African-American players to win a World Series championship when the Indians took the crown in 1948. He helped the Indians win a franchise-record 111 games and the AL pennant in 1954, finished second in the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award voting and was the AL’s RBI leader and home run champion. He went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Chunichi Dragons before his retirement as a player in 1962.
Doby later served as the second black manager in the majors with the Chicago White Sox, and in 1995 was appointed to a position in the AL’s executive office. He also served as a director with the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Hall’s Veterans Committee and died in 2003 at the age of 79.
From Baseball in Wartime:
Lawrence E “Larry” Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina on December 13, 1924. His family moved to New Jersey and Doby lettered in baseball, basketball, football and track at East Side High School in Patterson. He then attended Long Island University.
In 1942, at the age of 17, Doby won the Negro National League batting title with a .427 average. It was his first year in professional baseball as a second baseman with the Newark Eagles.
Doby hit .325 with the Eagles in 1943 and entered military service at the end of the season. He served with the Navy at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois, where he played with the Negro baseball team. He was also stationed at Camp Sam Roberts, California, Treasure Island and San Diego before reaching Ulithi Atoll in the Pacific.
Doby was back with the Eagles in 1946, batting .360, helping the team to the Negro League World Series title, and attracting interest from major league scouts. Doby began 1947 with the Eagles but signed with the Cleveland Indians on July 2, 1947, the first African-American to play in the American League. That same year he also signed with the Patterson Panthers of the American Basketball League as the first African-American in that league.
Doby played 29 games and batted .156 with the Indians in 1947, but became a regular the following year, batting .301 in 121 games and playing a key role in the 1948 World Series against the Boston Braves.
Larry Doby remained in the major leagues until 1959 and played over 1500 games. In 1962, Doby and Don Newcombe became the first former major leaguers to play for a professional Japanese team when they joined the Chunichi Dragons. He later became only the second African-American manager in the American League when he took over the White Sox in 1978.
During the 1980s Doby served as director of community relations with the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
Larry Doby passed away in Montclair, New Jersey on June 18, 2003, aged 79.