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Larry Doby, Bill Veeck
This date in 1947 marks the integration of baseball’s American League.
The Cleveland Indians were the first baseball team to integrate its team the summer if 1947, just a few months after Jackie Robinson first debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The first black man to play in the Junior Circuit was the somewhat overlooked Larry Doby.
A power hitting outfielder, Doby was patient at the plate and a danger with a bat in his hands. From 1949-56, he slugged 20 homers or more each season, topping out at 32. He drove in 100 or more runs five times, and he batted as high as .326. He led the American League in slugging and RBI, filling the middle of the Indians' lineup for most of the 1950s. He retired with 253 homers and a .490 slugging percentage.
After a long wait, he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. Larry Doby died on June 18, 2003.
20th Century Baseball Chronicle
Year-By-Year History of Major League Baseball
Copyright 1999, Publications International Ltd.