Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Larry Doby Biography - Early Life, Chronology, Enters Major Leagues, Becomes A Star, Career Statistics, Seeks Manager's Job

Larry Doby - Enters Major Leagues

indians veeck eagles country

Doby, a 22-year-old second baseman, rejoined the Newark Eagles in 1946, hitting .348 and helping the Eagles to a victory over the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro World Series. Then fate intervened in the person of Cleveland Indian owner Bill Veeck. Veeck was looking for a black player for the Indians. He had good reports on Doby, who in addition to boasting a .414 batting average and 14 home runs for the first half of 1947, neither smoked, drank, nor swore. Veeck bought Doby's contract from the Eagles. On July 3, while the Indians were playing in Chicago, Larry Doby made his debut as the American League's first black player.

Veeck expected Doby—like Robinson in Brooklyn—to comport himself by a different set of rules from other players: Doby was told not to react to the inevitable racial insults he would encounter. He must not fight back on the field. He could not disagree with umpires or react to fans. Doby was glad to submit. "He said this was the price I'd have to pay for being a part of baseball history. I was not worried about being a part of baseball history. All I wanted to do was play," Doby explained to Burt Graeff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His resolve was put to the test from the time he entered the Indians clubhouse. Introduced to the team, some Cleveland players refused to shake Doby's hand. On the field before the game, he stood alone for five minutes before second baseman Joe Gordon finally threw him a ball and warmed up with him.

Those were just the beginning of the indignities. Hotels across the country refused to let Doby room with his Indian teammates. He was denied service in restaurants. He was barred from entering ball parks in the South during spring training. On the field he was thrown at by opposing pitchers and spat on when he slid into base. He received hate mail from all over the country. With no other blacks on the Indians during his first year, Doby was forced to spend hours on the road by himself. Forty years after the fact some thought that Robinson's earlier entry into the big leagues would have made things easier for Doby. "To say I had it easy because of him is silly," he recalled to Burt Graeff, "I came in 11 weeks after he did. Eleven weeks did not alter the course of race relations in this country. We still have problems 50 years later. Jack and I went through a lot of the same things."

Doby struck out in his first at bat, and sat on the bench for most of the remainder of the 1947 season. Realizing he was unlikely to replace either Joe Gordon or Lou Boudreau—both All-Stars—in the infield, the Indians converted Doby to an outfielder in 1948. He had never played there before, but within a couple years he made himself into one of the finest defensive centerfielders in baseball.

Larry Doby - Becomes A Star [next] [back] Larry Doby - Chronology

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almost 10 years ago

That was tottaly poppin!