Simply Baseball Notebook's Forgotten In Time

Larry Doby

Hilton Smith
Larry Doby
Seattle Pilots
1994 Expos
Ray Chapman
Flashes in the Pan
Steve Blass
St. Louis Browns
Wally Pipp
Rocky Colavito
Dom DiMaggio
Ellis Valentine
Bill Buckner
Jim Bottomley
The Federal League
Stuart 'Slim' Jones
Billy Hamilton
Ed Delahanty
Eddie Waitkus
George Davis
Riggs Stephenson
1920 White Sox
Luke Easter
Herb Washington
Eddie Robinson
Bobby Mathews
Jimmy Ryan
A.G. Spalding
"Dummy" Hoy
Albert Belle
Jack Quinn
Ken Williams
Al Oliver
Jack Taylor
Fred Lindstrom
Jim Thorpe


Cleveland Indians 1947-55, 58
Chicago White Sox 1956-57, 59
Detroit Tigers 1959

It may be a stretch to say that Larry Doby is 'forgotten in time', but is certainly no stretch to say that he has not been given credit that he deserves. Doby was the second man to break baseball's color barrier and the first in the American League. He broke into the major leagues a mere 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson, yet his name is rarely mentioned when discussing baseball's pioneers. Not only was Doby baseball's second black player, but he was also became the second black manager in 1978 when he took over the Chicago White Sox.

Doby, the grandson of a slave, was thrust into the big leagues as a 22-year-old straight out of the Negro Leagues. Jackie Robinson, on the other hand, was 28 year old college graduate with minor league experience under his belt. Jackie Robinson won Rookie of the Year in 1947, Doby played in only 29 games & hit .156.

"He (Doby) had a much more difficult job than Jackie Robinson did," said former Indians teammate Al Rosen in an iterview with Joe Block of the Charleston RiverDogs Baseball Club. "He didn't have the sophistication & background by virtue of experience. Larry was just kind of thrown into it."

Doby's less-than-spectacular performance led to speculation that Indians' owner Bill Veeck, baseball's premier showman/promoter, had put Doby on the team merely for public relations purposes. But Veeck was more than a showman, he knew baseball, he knew that it was just a matter of time before the talented players in the Negro Leagues began to flood into MLB. In 1948, Doby's first full season, he hit .301 with 14 HR and 66 RBI in 121 games helping Cleveland to what still is their last World Series title and proving he belonged in the bigs.

Larry Doby was born on December 13, 1924 in Camden, SC.  Doby's father, a semipro baseball player, died when he was 8. He began his professional career in 1946 with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League and helped them to a Negoro League World Series title. He began his career as an infielder, but was switched to center field by the Indians and became a star under the guidance of Hall of Famer Tris Speaker. His best season was 1954 when he led the league in HR (32) and RBI (126) while leading the Tribe to 111 victories and the AL pennant. He finished 2nd that year to Yogi Berra in the AL MVP race. He left Cleveland after the 1955 season, playing 2 seasons for the White Sox before returning in 1958. He finished his MLB career as a player in 1959, splitting time with the White Sox amd Tigers. In 1960 he was back in the minors with Montreal of the Pacific Coast League and spent his final year as a professional in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons in 1962.

Although his days as a player were over, Doby's influence on the game was not. In 1978 he took over the managerial reigns of the Chicago White Sox for the second half of the season finishing with a 37-50 record. He was the second African-American to manage in the major leagues (Frank Robinson was the first with the Cleveland Indians in 1976).

Larry Doby was elected to the Baseball Hall in 1998. It was long overdue. He finished his career as a .283 hitter with 253 HR and 970 RBI in 1533 games. Doby, however, was not elected to the Hall of Fame because of statistics -- he was a pioneer -- a man whose influence on the game cannot be measured.

-David Zingler, Fall 2001


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