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Larry Doby - Seeks Manager's Job

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Doby had his sights set on becoming a manager. After a season managing winter ball, he had let it be known that he was available for a job. "I give myself five years," Joseph Thomas Moore quotes Doby as saying. "If I don't make it by then, I'll give up on the idea and get out of baseball altogether." Unfortunately baseball in the 1970s seemed as unwilling to admit a black manager as it had been in the 1940s to admit black players. Doby took a coaching job in Cleveland with an understanding that he would be in line for the manager's job there. When the manager was sacked, however, Doby was passed over in favor of another African-American, Frank Robinson. Returning to a coaching position with the Expos, he was passed over two more times within one season for the manager's job. Discouraged, he considered leaving baseball for good.

In 1977, however, Doby's old mentor, Bill Veeck, offered him a coaching job with the Chicago White Sox. When the team got off to a slow start in 1978, Veeck made Doby another offer—to manage the team. It was a bittersweet opportunity for Doby. He would be replacing Bob Lemon, a friend and teammate from the Indians. Veeck not only wanted Doby to turn the club around in the standings, but also to attract more black fans to Comiskey Park. When neither materialized, Doby was replaced. He had become the second black major league manager, but he was never given a fair opportunity to show what he could do.

After leaving the White Sox, Doby became the Director of Community Relations for the New Jersey Nets of the NBA. In the 1990s, he later became a special assistant for licensing matters to the president of the American League.

In 1997 Larry Doby began to receive some of the long-overdue recognition for his pioneering efforts to integrate major league baseball. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at that year's All-Star Game in Cleveland, followed by a week of celebrations honoring Doby. In August 1998 he was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. Despite the trials he had to suffer as a player and coach, Doby was not bitter. Far from feeling baseball had particular problems with race, he believes it led the way for American society. "A lot of people are complaining that baseball hasn't come along fast enough. And there is much more work to be done," Doby admitted to David Maraniss of the Washington Post. "But if you look at baseball, we came in 1947, before Brown versus the Board of Education [the 1954 Supreme Court decision integrating public schools], before anyone wrote a civil rights bill saying give them the same opportunities everyone else has. So whatever you want to criticize baseball about-it certainly needs more opportunities for black managers, black general managers, black umpires-remember that if this country was as far advanced as baseball it would be in much better shape."

Awards and Accomplishments

1949-55 American League All-Star
1950 Named best centerfielder in major leagues by Sporting News
1951 Named Baseball Man of the Year by Cleveland sports writers
1987 Awarded Doctorate of Humane Letters by Montclair State College
1987 July 15, 1987 designated "Larry Doby Day" by New Jersey Legislature
1993 Inducted into New Jersey Hall of Fame
1994 Number retired by Cleveland Indians
1997 Throws out first pitch at All-Star Game
1998 Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame

Doby died on June 17, 2003, in his home in Montclair, New Jersey, after a long illness. "He had been ill for some time," his son told the Associated Press. He is survived by his five children.

Larry Doby - Awards And Accomplishments [next] [back] Larry Doby - Career Statistics

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