Cheers were heard from movie theater audiences in 2013 after many saw “42”. The highly acclaimed and successful film told the story of Jackie Robinson breaking through racial barriers in 1947 to become the first African American in the 20th Century to play Major League baseball.
Lawrence (Larry) Eugene Doby, born December 13, 1923 in Camden, New Jersey, began playing with the Cleveland Indians later that same season. As the second African American in Major League baseball, the first to play in the American League, Doby’s status is overshadowed by Robinson. Although not as well known or revered, Doby’s accomplishments in baseball are still of historical significance.
Jackie Robinson’s status as being the first African American to break through Major League Baseball’s “invisible color line” had been established prior to the 1947 season. Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League in 1945, Robinson spent the 1946 season integrating the International League with their top minor league team; the Montreal Royals. Doby had just returned from military service in 1946 and became a star player on that year’s Negro League Baseball World Series Champion Newark Eagles. Bought from the Eagles by the Indians on July 2, 1947, Doby made his Major League debut third days later without having spring training or any minor league seasoning.
While Doby played in only 29 games and batted .156, Robinson had a tremendously successful season. He batted .297 to help the Dodgers win the 1947 National League pennant and play the New York Yankees in the World Series. He was also named the league’s Rookie of the Year.
However in 1948 with the Indians, Larry Doby and new teammate Satchel Paige became the first African Americans on a Major League World Series champion. Doby hit .301 with 14 home runs and 66 runs batted in. During Game Four of the 1948 World Series, he became the first African American to hit a World Series homerun. Also, Doby became the second African American to be manager of a Major League team in 1978; the Chicago White Sox. In his thirteen year career, he hit 253 homeruns, played in six All Star Games and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
Larry Doby, like Jackie Robinson, was an African American pioneer who successfully carried on his shoulders the hopes of his race in the face of failure’s dire consequences.
Who was Larry Doby's 1946 Newark Eagles' teammate that made his Major League debut in 1949 with the New York Giants?