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Thu, 12.13.1923

Larry Doby, Baseball’s unsung hero

Larry Doby

*Larry Doby was born on this date in 1923. He was a Black baseball player.

Born in Camden, South Carolina, Doby grew up in New Jersey. He attended Long Island University and played in the Negro National League. In August 1947, four months after Jackie Robinson had broken the National League's color line, Doby was signed by the Cleveland Indians and became the first Black ballplayer in the American League. “You didn't hear much about what I was going through because the media didn't want to repeat the same story.” On the field, Doby noted, “I couldn't react to (prejudicial) situations from a physical standpoint. My reaction was to hit the ball as far as I could.”

In 1948, his first full season, Doby hit 16 HR and contributed a.301 batting average to Cleveland's successful World Championship drive. He hit a team-leading.318 in the 1948 World Series, winning the fourth game with a 400-foot home run off the Braves. Although he led league outfielders with 14 errors in 1948, he became a good enough fielder to be named as the top center fielder in the majors in 1950, ahead of Joe DiMaggio and Duke Snider. In 1952 the left-handed hitter led the AL with 32 HR, 104 runs, and a.541 slugging percentage.

Doby topped AL batters in strikeouts two years running (111 in 1952 and 121 in '53). He also played in every All-Star Game from 1949 through 1954, hitting a key homer as a pinch-hitter in his last All-Star at-bat. In the Indians' 1954 record-setting 111-win season, his 32 HR, and 126 RBI paced the entire league. After his retirement, he played in Japan and coached for the Expos, Indians, and White Sox. He managed the White Sox for most of 1978. Larry Doby's uniform number 14 was retired by the Indians on July 5, 1994; 47 years to the day he broke the American League's color barrier.

The Veterans’ Committee elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1998. Larry Doby died on June 18, 2003.

Reference:
20th Century Baseball Chronicle
Year-By-Year History of major league Baseball
Copyright 1999, Publications International Ltd.
ISBN 0-7853-4074-2

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