HIST 498 Senior Seminar Paper

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The Second Coming: Larry Doby’s Ignored Legacy
On July 8, 1997, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held in Cleveland, Ohio.
The setting was perfect for Lawrence Eugene Doby to be thrust back into the history of Major
League Baseball and the picture of integration as a whole. The league was celebrating the 50th
Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s monumental first appearance for the Brooklyn Dodgers as the
first African-American player in the modern era. The league aimed to honor surviving pioneers
responsible for the process of integration that spanned multiple decades, starting in 1947. The
second player, whom was the first African-American to integrate the American League, seemed
the most fitting candidate to properly honor the legacy of integration. This sparked the
beginning of Larry Doby’s re-immergence as an important historical figure not only to baseball
but as a figurehead for African-Americans, and a crusader for equal rights.
Previous to this moment, Larry Doby had been virtually lost to history as simply an
insignificant follower, while Jackie Robinson enjoyed national recognition as well as
maintaining a heroic status in baseball as well as in furtherance of race relations in America.
The main argument of this essay is not to downplay or trivialize the accomplishments of Jackie
Robinson in any way, shape, or form. Jackie Robinson and his counterpart Branch Rickey were
very important to the integration of Major League Baseball and have earned their spots among
the heroes of the game. In fact, Larry Doby owes his Major League career to Jackie Robinson in
more ways than one. He had already been a start in the Negro Leagues for the Newark Eagles
playing under the name Larry Walker for some time. Just before moving to the Cleveland
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Indians, Doby was hitting .458 with the Newark Eagles.1 Prior to deciding to pursue a career in
baseball, Larry Doby was planning on becoming a teacher or a coach once he completed his
service in the Navy. With a month left in his service, news of Jackie Robinson being signed to
play for a Dodgers farm team in 1946 reached the unit Doby was with. The promising
possibility of a chance at the Major Leagues was too much for Doby to pass up as a white pitcher
from the Washington Senators, Mickey Vernon, stated, “You’ve got a chance now Larry. The
next one could be you.”2 Along with this there was also the fact that aside from owner Bill
Veeck’s quirky tactics for publicity, it was very unlikely that Cleveland would have brought in
Larry Doby if Branch Rickey’s experiment would have failed.3
Doby’s Legacy: Safe at Second
Larry Doby seemed destined to endure a life, where others had
placed him, in the periphery whether it was his career in baseball or in
his life beyond baseball. There are multiple cases throughout his career
in which Doby comes second to yet another one of baseball’s pioneers.
Jackie Robinson’s breaking of baseball’s color line cast a large shadow
on Larry Doby’s career and setting the bar impossibly high for all the
early players that followed his pioneering of integration. In actuality Jackie Robinson only beats
Larry Doby in integration of Major League Baseball by a total of eleven weeks. Due to Doby’s
Joseph Thomas Moore. Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby . P. 37
Andrew O’Toole. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901 – 2002. P. 55
Jules Tygiel. Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy . P.217
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late appearance during the 1947 season as the integration pioneer of the American League, Doby
was given the title of “the second man” to integrate Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson is
famously quoted in 1947 saying, “I did my job. I stuck to what I had to do and now that the boys
are coming in, it’s about time they forgot about Robinson”.4 Here Robinson does not literally
mean that his legacy should be forgotten, rather he is imploring the media and baseball fans
throughout America to let Larry Doby be his own player and make his own legacy outside of the
shadow of Jackie Robinson. The wishes of Robinson were, of course, not honored by the sports
media throughout the country then, nor by the historians who later recounted Robinson’s
entrance to Major League Baseball. Many writings tended to focus on the actions of Robinson
and Branch Rickey as a snapshot of integration rather than a broad picture of integration as a
process including many other important people.
The most common comparison made between the two pioneering players was about their
batting averages during the 1947 season when Robinson produced a batting average of .300 and
Doby’s batting average was a meager .156 through 32 plate appearances.5 In comparison to that
negative portrayal of Doby, there was the constant attention of the stardom of Larry Doby during
his 1948 season as they shifted back and forth, in this instance Doby lead with a batting average
of .294 while Robinson had an equally respectable .286.6 Unfortunately the comparisons did not
end at statistics. The comparisons between these two iconic figures can be drawn back to the
erroneous conclusion drawn by the American public that because Doby came second to
The Pittsburgh Courrier. July 19, 1947. P. 14
The Cleveland Call and Post. September 6, 1947. P. 8B
Chicago Defender. May 8 and 22, 1948. P.11
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Robinson, the American League integration should have been easier because Jackie Robinson
brought change to baseball and conditions were no longer harsh for future African-Americans to
integrate.7 In all fairness, the two pioneers endured pretty much the exact same conditions and
Gene Budig argued that many members of the press believed that Doby actually had it harder
than Robinson because he was in the league less accepting of change and integration, the
American League.8
The pair endured multiple indecencies in their surrounding environment: including,
opposing players spitting on them; calls based on their color; Jim Crow conditions in their
respective spring training areas. Along with this there were unfavorable circumstances in their
organizations: where they were forced to eat, sleep, and practice away from their teammates.9
Tygiel states that, following the 1948 triumph in the World Series, Larry Doby seems to have
succeeded in emerging from the shadow of Jackie Robinson as he is characterized as, “the major
league bellwether of the Negro race.”10 Success during the 1948 season and the accolades that
followed shows great promise for recognition of Doby’s career as well as his well deserved place
in the history of the process of integration of Major League Baseball; neither would be quickly
realized. Doby’s spot at the top proved fleeting and Robinson was thrust back into the limelight
in the years that followed, again casting a shadow on the career of Larry Doby.
Satchel Paige stands as another important figure in Major League Baseball’s process of
integration responsible for removing Larry Doby from the limelight received from the
Terry Pluto. Our Tribe: A Baseball Memoir. P. 143
Gene A. Budig. Grasping the Ring: Nine Unique Winners in Life and Sports . P. 13
Marshall Cook & Jack Walsh. Baseball’s Good Guys: The Real Heroes of the Game. P. 57
Jules Tygiel. Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy . P. 239
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outfielder’s unexpected improvement at the start of the 1948 season. Doby was a key ingredient
in the success of the 1948 Cleveland Indians, who some predicted as a fourth place team helping
propel them in a tight race for the American League pennant. Bill Veeck, continuing his
reputation as a very proactive businessman that would do anything to win and bring a pennant
back to Cleveland, decided to bring in the Negro League veteran, Satchel Paige, near the end of
the season to solidify the Indian’s pitching staff as well as to gain even more publicity in the
form of record setting crowds. Satchel Paige was “baseball’s greatest drawing card”11 as he
filled stadiums to capacity and left countless others on the streets unable to enter to get an
opportunity to see the ancient one in action. In five starts for Paige, the crowds grew to 265,000
fans with the highest figure being a sellout crowd of 78,000 at Municipal Stadium.12
With Bill Veeck’s signing of Satchel Paige, Larry Doby suddenly was no longer the most
popular player in the Indians organization. Rather he was outshone by the most popular player
in all of Major League Baseball. Moreover, the pitcher was a crowd pleaser. Another reason he
was valued over Larry Doby was that Satchel Paige was seen culturally as a “genuine folk
hero”13 as he often imparted little bits of “wisdom”, for lack of a better word, such as his
explanation of step of how to stay young. His age, although a topic of debate, gave him a
veteran status, although he was classified as a rookie pitcher in Major League Baseball.
At the end of the 1948 season, following a remarkable year for Doby, and the entire
Cleveland Indians organization, the team won the American League pennant. This matched the
Chicago Defender. August 28, 1948. P. 11
Atlanta Daily World. September 7, 1948. P. 4
Andrew O’Toole. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901-2002. P. 51
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Indians up with the Boston Braves in an historic World Series, giving Satchel Paige and Larry
Doby the opportunity to become the first African-American players to win a World Series. In
this series, Larry Doby plays a pivotal role in Cleveland’s victory over Boston with a .318
batting average in the series, multiple hits, and a signature home run against the ever dominant
Johnny Sain. Satchel Paige, on the other hand, only plays in Game Two of the series in the top
of the seventh inning when the game was already lost to the Braves. In spite of the opposite
experiences by the two African-Americans in the World Series, Paige gets more media
coverage.14 The Cleveland Call and Post stated that, “When Lou elected to use Paige, it was in a
sting that meant little to the outcome of the game, although 86,288 fans gave Satch the greatest
ovation an player received during the classic.”15
Larry Doby’s career accomplishments in other areas are likewise diminished for the fact
that he was the second to accomplish a feat. He attempts to be the first African-American
manager by working his way up through many different coaching jobs and making it known that
he is looking for a chance to manage a Major League team. He is turned down multiple times by
the Cleveland Indians and the Montreal Expos until 1979 when he becomes the second AfricanAmerican manager being hired again by the ever progressive Bill Veeck for the Chicago White
Sox. Frank Robinson is the first to accomplish this feat in 1975 when he is chosen over Larry
Doby to coach the Cleveland Indians. Doby also becomes the second American player to go
abroad and play professional baseball in Japan. Finally, in more of historical and sentimental
sense, Doby comes in second in the Hall of Fame as he is virtually ignored by the writers
Jon Caroulis. Larry Doby: He Played in the Shadow of Jackie Robinson . P. 49
The Cleveland Call and Post. October 16, 1948. P. 6B
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association until the injustices are revealed far too late. In relation to lots of recent talk about his
place as a pioneer or simply the second person to accomplish something Doby states, “I don’t
think about being second or first. I think about being a part of history…a part of bringing people
Better Late Than Never: Hall of Fame
There are multiple accomplishments that Larry Doby achieved during his playing career
that should set him apart as a premier baseball player and a Hall of Fame caliber player in no
man’s shadow. Of these accomplishments, Doby was the first African-American position player
to win a World Series, the first African-American player to hit a home run in the World Series,
the first player to win championships in both the Negro League and Major League Baseball, the
first black player to win a home run title in Major League Baseball, and the first black player to
win the RBI title in the American League.17 He also recorded eight straight twenty or more
home run seasons, as well as an equally impressive 164 errorless game streak.18 Multiple star
players attested to his worth and his meriting a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of these was
Yogi Berra who not only proclaimed that Doby deserved a spot next to Jackie19 but also claimed
that Doby, “could do everything - hit, run, field, throw.”20 Also chiming in about Doby’s
qualification was Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Joe Black who stated, “Larry Doby was a
Marshall Cook & Jack Walsh. Baseball’s Good Guys: The Real Heroes of the Game. P. 56
Gene A. Budig. Grasping the Ring: Nine Unique Winners in Life and Sports . P 11
Jon Caroulis. Larry Doby: He Played in the Shadow of Jackie Robinson . P. 48
Gene A. Budig. Grasping the Ring: Nine Unique Winners in Life and Sports. P 11
United States Congress. Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 108th Congress. P. 15470
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remarkable player. He really could do it all.”21 Unfortunately, as shown previously, there was a
spotlight on Jackie Robinson, blinded others to the accomplishments of Larry Doby. The voters
for the baseball Hall of Fame were especially blinded by Robinson’s achievement. This is
shown even in Cleveland newspapers as focus periodically shifts primarily to Robinson
especially during the 1947 season. Another factor that may have a large influence on Doby’s
career being disregarded by the Hall of Fame is the discrimination in the media especially by
people like Cleveland Press columnist, Franklin Lewis and others like him. Lewis portrays
Doby as “sullen” and “morose” as well as having a false sense of self as a “symbol of the Negro
in his league.”22 This opinion by a member of the media, coupled with his overall quiet
personality, can help to shed a light on why Baseball Hall of Fame voters either forgot about, or
decided to deny Larry Doby entrance based on a general racist and discriminatory pattern of
thinking characteristic of the mainstream culture at that time.
Much time passes before Larry Doby starts to receive credit for his accomplishments.
On significant date is July 5, 1997, fifty years to the day after Larry
Doby was the first to integrate the American League. Up to this point,
he has yet to receive the respect he most definitely deserves for his
accomplishments aside from a being honored before the game on that
day23. With this historic anniversary, Doby is picked to throw out the
first pitch at the 1997 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. These two factors seem to play an
Marshall Cook & Jack Walsh. Baseball’s Good Guys: The Real Heroes of the Game. P. 62
Andrew O’Toole. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901-2002. P. 68
Herald-Journal -July 6, 1997. P. 20
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important role in his much awaited induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. There is
another underlying factor that goes seemingly unmentioned. The current climate of baseball
raises certain questions as to why Larry Doby is remembered and valued. Baseball in 1998 is at
a point where large muscles, big bats, and towering home runs are of the utmost value both for
fandom, attendance, and generally excitement. We later come to know this period in baseball as
the steroid era and many question how our values condoned cheating and artificial enhancement.
In connecting this era to the recognition and respect of Larry Doby’s career, we have to realize
the predominant factor that made Doby an instant fan favorite: his towering homeruns and
tremendous hitting skill. He shows up at training camp in 1948 with improved fielding,
knowledge of the game, and shows power early and often.24 Two of his most famous home runs
occurred in Griffith Stadium in Washington: the first of which coming in 1948 in Griffith
Stadium where the ball flew 450 feet before hitting and being the longest homerun seen since
Babe Ruth played there 26 years prior.25 Doby does it again in 1949 when he hits a 500 foot
towering home run that leaves Griffith Stadium and lands on an adjacent street, becoming at that
time, the longest home run ever hit in Griffith Stadium.26 This obviously is not the main reason
that he is remembered and elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is actually remembered
for his accomplishments and given the respect he deserves. This simply points out the context to
which we remember his legacy and proposes a reason as to why re-introduced into baseball
Atlanta Daily World. March 13, 1948. P. 2
Chicago Defender. May 15, 1948. P. 11
Brad Snyder. Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration
of Baseball. P. 264
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history aside from the solution of the 50th Anniversary involving him being the best alternative to
honor since Jackie Robinson is no longer alive at that point in time.
With Larry Doby’s retirement from Major League Baseball in late 1959, he became
eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1966 and remains eligible until 1967 when less than 5% of the
voters picked him to join the ranks of the Hall of Fame unless he would be chosen in the future
by the Veterans Committee. He would have been eligible in 1965 by normal voting rules but the
writers did not vote for Hall of Fame inductees that year. Larry Doby never even got close to
achieving the 75% necessary to join the Hall of Fame. The first vote he was included in, he only
received 2.3%, 7 votes. In his second vote, he only received 3.4%, 10 votes and because of this
his name was taken off the ballot.27 This time period comes and goes as Larry Doby bares the
injustice of his legacy slipping through the cracks of the history of baseball. He is being utterly
forgotten because the voters will not vote him in. An article in 1973 calls for change saying that
there are far too many players that deserve to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame that are being left
out based on extraneous circumstances. The author proposes that a change be made that allows
stars such as the likeness of Larry Doby gain entry to the Hall of Fame in which they obviously
deserve based on performance, character, and historical meaning.28
1967 Hall of Fame Voting <http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/hof_1967.shtml>
Chicago Defender. April 25, 1973. P. 23
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Acceptance: Integration as a process
At the beginning of the 1948 season there were not a lot of
expectations for Larry Doby as he was moved into the outfield. One
very meaningful event occurred at the opening of the 1948 season
when a fan yelled after a strikeout “Loosen up kid! You’re just
another ball player! Forget it!”29 This of course was not the opinion
of the general public but it showed that Doby could relax and show off
his talents because the organization, Bill Veeck, and his manager believed in his future abilities.
Throughout the season things began to change as Larry Doby started to become one of the most
exciting and electric players in the major league. His pure talent and athleticism helped spur the
Indians to a World Series title in which he was instrumental not only with his hitting prowess but
also with spectacular fielding. This of course lead to one of the most famous photographs taken
of Larry Doby during his career. He is caught in an embrace with teammate Steve Gromek that
exemplifies feelings of pure joy as well as personal acceptance free from restrictions of race.
This picture is iconic as it shows that in that moment of joy and celebration, all shreds of race
and segregation are irrelevant. This picture was one of the symbols of the 1948 World Series
and showed promise of the direction of the process of integration for the future. The positive
significance of this photograph should not be underscored for what it really meant to the
Cleveland Indians organization and more importantly to the confidence and acceptance as a
teammate for Larry Doby. This moment was important as it is the earliest nationally publicized
The Cleveland Call and Post. April 24, 1948. P. 7B
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interracial celebration between teammates. This photo challenged popular belief in American
society. The social significance of this photograph accomplished what Larry Doby wanted from
fans as well as fellow professionals; to be appreciated for his success and be valued as a person
rather than just a very good athlete. There is a very large difference between fame and
acceptance as a person and this situation helps to set things in motion to help this become a
reality for the future.
Unfortunately for Doby and other players attempting to integrate, this picture was merely
a partial truth. One consequence of this process was that he often would have to have different
living accommodations than his team because he was not allowed to stay in the team hotel
because of his race. He even had a separate hotel in Cleveland, called the Majestic Hotel.30
There is an instance of progress during Doby’s 1947 season in Washington let allowed Larry
Doby to stay and he was noted as the first “race” guest to stay at this hotel.31 This was an
example of hope for the future but there still was a long way to go as many other hotels would
not allow African-Americans to stay. The process of integration and acceptance takes many
steps in his career as Doby gets little credit for being the first person to achieve these different
steps. The process of integration spans far beyond simply breaking the color line. This simple
act of desegregation is merely a preliminary step towards full integration. The American League
was viewed by many members of the press as the more volatile league towards integration
because they were slower to integrate and showed little movement toward the process after
Joseph Thomas Moore. Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby . P. 56
The Pittsburgh Courier. July 19, 1947. P. 14
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Jackie Robinson’s introduction to the farm teams in 1946.32 In the first start of Larry Doby’s
major league baseball career, he needed a glove to borrow so he could play first base. At this
time, tension on the team was so bad that he could not even borrow a glove from a fellow
teammate. In one account, struggling first baseman, Eddie Robinson, refused to lend his glove
to Doby saying, “I wont lend my glove to no nigger.”33 The situation was so bad in fact that
Doby resorted to borrowing a glove from a Chicago White Sox player because he could not get a
glove from a teammate.34 This shows one of the hardships that Larry Doby had to endure like
his predecessor Jackie Robinson as well as the early process of integration stressing how hard it
was for Doby to be struggling while the eyes of a town and the eyes of a nation were on him, and
comparing him to Robinson. Due to his early struggles he did not get nearly the media coverage
that Robinson drew but he still had a tremendous amount of pressure on his shoulders. With the
help of a spectacular 1948 campaign, as well as a genuine World Series celebration picture with
Steve Gromek, Larry Doby effectively takes another step in the integration process to gain
acceptance from the majority of his teammates. Following a very high profile World Series
victory, Larry Doby and his wife made their way back from Cleveland to his hometown of
Patterson, New Jersey where the couple was greeted by a parade in his honor. This parade
further perpetuates the false hope for equality in the near future coupling with the Gromek photo
and the warm reception of people that followed his quick rise to fame in major league baseball.
His holiday of acceptance and equality is short lived when Doby decided to invest in a home in
Gene A. Budig. Grasping the Ring: Nine Unique Winners in Life and Sports . P 13
Joseph Thomas Moore. Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby. P. 53
Terry Pluto. Our Tribe: A Baseball Memoir. P. 152
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Patterson, New Jersey. Larry Doby desires to live in more prominent neighborhood as was then
available to him thanks to a more stable and lucrative financial situation. In his attempt to buy a
house, a petition surfaced to block the Doby’s attempt to buy the house in an all white
neighborhood. Eventually he had to resort to asking the mayor to intervene so that they could
buy this house without opposition.35 This
shows how integration was a process and the
idea that the picture with Gromek was the
end troubles with race in baseball would be
entirely ignorant. In this step in the process
of integration people were willing to accept
Larry Doby for the player he was through
his fame, his athletic brilliance in hitting as well as fielding, and also the championship he
brought to the team. This is the idea of the amazing athlete and the people can appreciate the
pure athletic talent but beyond that they are not ready to further the process. The final goal for
Larry Doby was to be accepted as a person. In a speech to high school athletes in Patterson,
New Jersey, Doby shares this idea saying, “fame is a myth, but being a person is real.”36 This
phenomenon was far from becoming a reality and had to endure man more steps before it could
start to become a reality. Another large breakthrough that was very similar in meaning to the
Gromek picture to the process of integration was the brawl of 1957 when Larry Doby was on the
Chicago White Sox. He was brushed back by a pitch from New York Yankees pitcher Art
Andrew O’Toole. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901-2002. P. 67
Joseph Thomas Moore. Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby. P. 84
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Ditmar. Normally, Doby conducted himself as a professional and just ignored all people that
tried to hinder his progress, but this time he rushed the mound and landed a punch on Ditmar,
thus starting a brawl in the infield that cleared both benches.37 In any other situation, it may just
receive a small paragraph in the newspaper, but this was different because it was the first
significant interracial fight in sports.38 The fact that the benches cleared shows a very large step
in the acceptance of Larry Doby as a person and as a teammate. When he joins Cleveland in
1947, there was not quite an opposition, but there was more of an indifference as the general
feeling of the team in a way that they were not going to help him or have his back in a particular
situation, however they were not going to mount a large moral protest against the situation. This
display of comradery in 1957 was a message not only to Larry Doby of the sincerity and
acceptance from his team towards his efforts, but it also sends a message to the nation that in the
eyes of the players these integrated players are considered fellow human beings rather than being
looked at as the freak athlete.
The reality of the situation in Major League Baseball was that the players needed to be
twice as good as everyone else to earn their spot not only to join the major leagues but also to
earn a roster spot.39 This held true not only for Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby but for other
players that were easily good enough from the Negro Leagues and the few other AfricanAmerican players lucky enough to join major league baseball during the early process of
integration. This was the idea of the “freak of nature” athlete that was “born” to play baseball.
George Vass & Larry Doby. “The Game I Will Never Forget”.
Andrew O’Toole. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901-2002. P. 69
Neil Lanctot. Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution. P. 380
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The idea of the “freak” athlete gave false sense of self to the process of integration. It made the
situation seem a lot more controlled and positive that it actually was. The attendance increases
were not a public revelation towards social equality. It was more like a circus and these players
were the main attraction that crowds came from far and wide to see. Chicago sports writers had
a firsthand look at Doby and his mastery of the sport in 1948 coupled with Jackie Robinson’s
continued success. With this, they started campaigning to get the owners of both Chicago
baseball organizations to invest in an African-American player. In May of 1948 the Chicago
Defender cries out for an African-American player stating both the financial and talent based
arguments.40 Massive crowds were coming out to see Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby and
attendance skyrocketed with the introduction of Satchel Paige. When the Chicago organizations
still did not have attempt to obtain an African-American player, the Defender again speaks out
more radically asking fans to boycott both the White Sox and Cubs until the racist tendencies are
stopped and they pick up a player like Doby and Robinson.41 It made sense not only for
increasing attendance but for team production. When Paige comes into the major leagues, the
explosion of stadium attendance is documented nationally as he is most sought after player in all
of sports. Through five starts, Paige is credited with selling out five stadiums with attendance
above 265,000 between the five games, and this is not counting the thousands that had to be
turned away because there were no more tickets available.42 This shows the fans feelings toward
both Doby and Paige. They were impressed by the “circus” catches, peculiar antics on the
Chicago Defender. May 8, 1948. P. 10
Chicago Defender. June 5, 1948. P. 10
Atlanta Daily World. September 7, 1948. P. 4
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pitching mound, and stunning base running. It was like a disconnect from reality to watch these
players perform superhuman acts. This allowed the public to be very excited about baseball
while still not accepting the players as human beings, as is shown through real estate opposition
example in Patterson, New Jersey. This becomes like a modern day example of NIMBY (Not in
my back yard) as the people can choose to go see them whenever they wish but they do not want
these integrated players to be a part of their daily life. These ideals are also present in the 1948
World Series when Satchel Paige is brought into the game in a scenario where the outcome was
already decided. He received an ovation larger than any other player of the series despite the
fact that Larry Doby had played every game up to that point and had played remarkably well.43
The differences in personality of Robinson, Paige, and Doby
Larry Doby was chosen by Bill Veeck to integrate the American League with the
Cleveland Indians because of his similarity in character and background to Jackie Robinson.
The similarities between the two players do not go much further than that background and
overall character. Jackie Robinson was by far the more outspoken and politically active of the
two pioneers. Doby was described as being much gentler, compassionate, and more welltempered than Robinson.44 Although they both quickly establish themselves, Doby after his first
spring training and Robinson after his time in the minor leagues, they are governed by different
sets of rules. Once Robinson establishes himself, he becomes what some describe as a “brutal”
The Cleveland Call and Post. October 16, 1948. P. 6B
Gene A. Budig. Grasping the Ring: Nine Unique Winners in Life and Sports. P 16
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player that is very outspoken with umpires, players, and even nationally outspoken through
newspaper columns. Through his establishment as a quality player, Larry Doby remained a very
reserved player under the rules of Bill Veeck: no fighting, do not acknowledge insults, don’t give
umpires dirty looks for perceived bad calls, and don’t give autographs to white women to avoid
provoking white men for any reason.45 Larry Doby stuck to this policy so strictly that his only
real confrontation was his famous fight in 1957 while with the Chicago White Sox. His quiet
nature probably comes from his experiences with the military where he first consciously
experienced instances of racism and segregation. His defense mechanism for this was to “go
into a shell.”46 Another large difference between these two pioneers is their age coming into
major league baseball. Robinson was a fully mature man at the age of 27, whereas Larry Doby
was just a kid at a normal rookie age of 22.47 They may be similar physically but mentally the
development is quite different. This is another portion of Larry Doby’s career that gets
overlooked especially upon the introduction of Willie Mays. Jules Tygiel writes, “Robinson
established a Negro can make it. Mays established that a young Negro could make it.”48 This
entirely overlooks the contributions of Larry Doby prior to Mays’s introduction into major
league baseball, upon his completion of high school, in 1951. This is a prime example of how
Larry Doby is overshadowed by other talented integration pioneers.
Terry Pluto. Our Tribe: A Baseball Memoir. P. 150
Jules Tygiel. Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy . P. 214
Terry Pluto. Our Tribe: A Baseball Memoir. P. 147
Jules Tygiel. Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy. P. 289
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Another personality difference that played a large difference in Doby’s career as well as
how he was seen in Cleveland was Satchel Paige and his crowd pleasing actions and
performances. Paige’s antics were so much different than Doby’s personality. Paige notoriously
continued the lifestyle stereotypical of Negro League nightlife while at the same time getting
little discipline or negative media coverage as a result. Somehow Paige was able to achieve all
of the spotlight without any ramification for his actions. When Paige was originally picked up
by the Cleveland Indians during the 1948 season, Doby is excited because he will finally have
someone to share his experience with and prevent the loneliness that plagued him up to that
point. In reality, Paige’s presence only fostered a relationship like that was more like an
acquaintance such as college roommates that just learn to coexist in the same living quarters.
Doby uneasily called Paige his “roomie” and Paige passively called him his “old lady” thus
showing their stark differences in personalities and living styles.49
Out of the Park: Doby after baseball
Upon completion of his playing career, Larry Doby had set lofty goals for his future,
which seem only fitting after all he had accomplished in his still relatively young age. He was
never a man to try and speak out against race as he tried to ignore it as best he could, while being
the best player he could be. The difficult part of his life after baseball is that he could no longer
set people straight or command respect with his play on the field. While he was still in the prime
of his baseball career, he could keep his mind off of things by concentrating on perfecting his
Joseph Thomas Moore. Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby . P. 77
Fauerbach 20
skills and training. Suddenly he realized he could not ignore this racism any longer.50 This
realization leads him to try to find other mediums to diminish the harsh realities of racism and
discrimination in society. His new goal after retiring was to become a manager, and not because
it is a goal of his to become the first African-American man to manage a major league baseball
team, but simply because he believed he could do it and excel at the position based on his
experiences at different positions as a coach in major league organizations.51 He was not
interested in becoming a racial pioneer; his largest wish was to just be a person. Larry Doby
bounced around to different teams and different levels of major league baseball. While coaching
at Montreal he started to let people know around him that his goal was to be a manager and
started to lobby his position and qualifications for a future position at the top level of
competition. He achieved high level coaching jobs with Montreal Expos as well as with his
original team the Cleveland Indians but was continually passed over by the organizations. This
shows another part of the process of integration as he is overwhelmingly accepted by his
teammates during his playing years but into the 1970’s management is reluctant to allow an
African-American manager to run their team. Doby finds that at this time, “All of a sudden my
color looked more important than it really was.”52
Doby spent most of his life in the shadows and was content with not being outspoken
about issues. He only changed this strategy once in his life and this was when he was attempting
to become a manager in major league baseball which ended in many disappointments as well as a
Andrew O’Toole. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901-2002. P. 67
Joseph Thomas Moore. Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby. P. 135
The Modesto Bee. July 3, 1978. P. 10
Fauerbach 21
brief stint in which he was given little chance for success with a lackluster Chicago White Sox
team that he leads to 37 wins and 50 losses in the second half of the season. Along with this he
is not only passed over for the Cleveland Indians manager job, in which he had a good
relationship with the personnel but also a reputation for good communication with the players,
only to see Frank Robinson become the first African-American manager in Major League
Baseball. Adding insult to injury, Frank Robinson fires the coaching staff including Larry Doby.
After Doby’s brief stint with the Chicago White Sox, Larry Doby would not be given another
chance at managing a Major League Baseball team. Bill Veeck quickly, and without public
announcement, fires Doby and moves on with the organization. As a manager Larry Doby could
not quiet his critics as easily as he could in his playing days, and because of his failings as a
manager Doby reluctantly resorted to an exit from baseball. He had effectively been forgotten
thanks in part to his quiet tendencies, the star power around him, and the perceived lack of
groundbreaking achievements on his resume. It was around this time in his life when the
damage from his bitterness and the discrimination from years of silence really started to eat at
him mentally.53 Because of this experience he was content to revert back to his naturally quiet
nature rather than to lobby for his spot in the baseball Hall of Fame. He decided not to campaign
to be voted into the Hall of Fame because he was afraid it would work against his chance to get
voted in.54 His bitterness starts to take over upon realization that he would not be remembered as
one of the greatest players to play in the major leagues by the writers who vote for the Hall of
Fame. In a conversation with his son asking about his playing days Doby says, “I don’t live for
Terry Pluto. Our Tribe: A Baseball Memoir. P. 155
Ian O’Connor. Give Doby Due With Place in Hall. February 1998
Fauerbach 22
the past, I live for tomorrow.”55 This shows his disconnect from baseball and the foundation he
had laid for the sport. His forgiveness and refusal to out the players that treated him badly may
have played a part in why he was not as well remembered before the 1990’s because it gave the
appearance that it was easy when Jackie Robinson made it known to everyone around him that it
was not easy and that the things he had to endure were unjust. It wasn’t until years later, in the
wake of the era of steroids and home run races that Larry Doby begins to be recognized as a
player who was lost to history, but just as important as his famous contemporaries such as Jackie
Robinson, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, and the ever eccentric Satchel Paige. At this time he
was working as a special assistant to American League president Gene Budig.56 Upon the 50
year anniversary of integration, Major League Baseball wanted to celebrate with the 1997 AllStar game. Jackie Robinson had been dead for many years by this time so they looked to Larry
Doby who integrated that same year and had just celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first game
with the Cleveland Indian organization. From this moment on, Larry Doby gets national
spotlight and the conversation is opened back up as to why he has yet to be selected to the Hall
of Fame as he was neglected by the writers and has yet to be acknowledged by the Veterans
Committee. This media attention was instrumental in convincing the Veterans Committee of the
injustice to Larry Doby and the history of baseball that he has yet to join the Hall of Fame. He
was quickly selected for his brilliance in the Negro League as well as in Major League Baseball
as the 1998 Veterans Committee Hall of Fame inductee. In his speech he voiced that he was just
Marshall Cook & Jack Walsh. Baseball’s Good Guys: The Real Heroes of the Game. P. 63
Jon Caroulis. Larry Doby: He Played in the Shadow of Jackie Robinson . P. 50
Fauerbach 23
happy to live to see himself put into the Hall of Fame57 which shows a passive bitterness for
being forgotten this long yet at the same time actually being happy that he has finally made it and
persevered to the point that he is appreciated for his accomplishments as a person and not just as
an athlete that produced some very good statistics over his career. A few years after he finally
received his historical recognition that he earned and deserved, Larry Doby died at the age of 78.
Throughout his life he maintained the dignity and humility that characterized his career, having
never said an unkind word about the people that were hostile to him throughout his life58, and
thankfully he lived to see that his contributions were eventually valued and his legacy will now
carry on in the way that he deserves to be remembered.
The enduring idea seems to consistently come back to the fact Jackie Robinson was “the”
pioneer that fostered the integration of baseball rather than a collective effort of multiple stars
that included Larry Doby prior to the 1990’s. One specific example of this was the book
Baseball’s Good Guys in which there was a section specifically meant to push Larry Doby up on
the pedestal of integration side-by-side with Jackie Robinson and stressed that his contributions
and experiences were just as important to the furtherance of integration as well as improving race
relations within society. In O’Toole’s summary of his book he leaves out Doby’s name in its
explanation of pioneers of the game and influential figures. It gives all of the credit to the
Baseball Hall of Fame Webpage. < http://baseballhall.org/node/1155>.
Elaine Welteroth. Baseball Pioneer Larry Doby Remembered During Memorial Service in New Jersey.
Fauerbach 24
experience of Jackie Robinson.59 Along with the perception of Jackie Robinson, many other
factors got in the way to distract from the historical significance of Doby’s career such as the
bright stars like Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson upon attempting a career as a
manager. Another large factor that played some role in being ignored by historians is his quiet
and humble nature so he was not constantly making headlines or speaking out against any
injustices. Larry Doby, in a humble fashion like was expected of him contributes this to history
saying, “Baseball has come a long way. If I had something to do with it, I’m proud. My only
hope is that this whole world would have come as far as baseball.”60 This shows that he is proud
of his accomplishments as a person and he mainly just wishes, while still holding out hope for
the future, that people would also be proud of and honor his accomplishments. Finally, the main
theme of this paper was to understand that it was not simply the injustices that we know he went
through, as the first to integrate the American League, that make him worthy of a position next to
baseball greats like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio. Rather,
the aim of this essay is to say that Larry Doby was instrumental in furthering the process of
integration through many endeavors and experiences during his playing career as well as during
his life outside of Major League Baseball. Larry Doby sums it up best when he says “You
should forgive, but it just isn’t smart to forget.”61 Thankfully, his legacy has been renewed and
corrected since the 50 year anniversary of the first step of the process of integration in baseball.
Andrew O’Toole. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 1901-2002. P. 151
Marshall Cook & Jack Walsh. Baseball’s Good Guys: The Real Heroes of the Game. P. 56
Ian O’Connor. Give Doby Due With Place in Hall. February 1998
Fauerbach 25
Works Cited
Budig, Gene A., and Bob Costas. Grasping the Ring: Nine Unique Winners in Life and Sports.
Champaign, IL: News-Gazette, 2008. Print.
Cook, Marshall, and Jack Walsh. Baseball's Good Guys: the Real Heroes of the Game.
[Champaign, Ill.]: Sports Pub., 2004. Print.
Jacobson, Steve. Carrying Jackie's Torch: the Players Who Integrated Baseball-- and America.
Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill, 2007. Print.
Lanctot, Neil. Negro League Baseball: the Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania, 2004. Print.
Moore, Joseph Thomas. Pride against Prejudice: the Biography of Larry Doby. New York:
Praeger, 1988. Print
O'Toole, Andrew. The Best Man Plays: Major League Baseball and the Black Athlete, 19012002. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003. Print.
Pluto, Terry. Our Tribe: a Baseball Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Print.
Snyder, Brad. Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: the Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and
the Integration of Baseball. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. Print.
Fauerbach 26
Tygiel, Jules. Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy. New York:
Oxford UP, 1997. Print.
United States. Congress. Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 108th
Congress: First Session. Part II ed. Vol. 149. Google Books. Web.
Magazines from online database:
Bechtel, Mark. "The Next One: After Jackie Robinson, Doby Blazed a Trail of His Own."
Editorial. Sports Illustrated 30 June 2003. SI Vault. Sports Illustrated. Web. 16 Oct.
Caroulis, Jon. "Larry Doby: He Played in the Shadow of Jackie Robinson." Baseball Digest July
1995: 47-50. Google Books. Web.
Vass, George, and Larry Doby. "The Game I'll Never Forget." Baseball Digest Nov. 1973: 6971. Google Books. Web.
Welteroth, Elaine. "Baseball Pioneer Larry Doby Remembered During Memorial Service in New
Jersey." Jet 14 July 2003: 48-49. Google Books. Web.
Atlanta Daily World, July 6, 1947 – October 12, 1948.
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Chicago Defender (National edition), July 12, 1947 – April 25, 1973.
"Herald-Journal - Google News Archive Search." Google News. Web.
=3307,1221549&dq=larry doby&hl=en>.
O'connor, Ian. "GIVE DOBY DUE WITH PLACE IN HALL." New York News, Traffic, Sports,
Weather, Photos, Entertainment, and Gossip - NY Daily News. Web.
The Cleveland Call and Post, July 5, 1947 – October 16, 1948.
"The Modesto Bee - Google News Archive Search." Google News. Web.
=1012,1156430&dq=larry doby&hl=en>.
The Pittsburgh Courier, July 12, 1947 – April 3, 1948.
The Washington Post, July 6, 1947 – November 26, 1948.
"1967 Hall of Fame Voting - Baseball-Reference.com." Baseball-Reference.com - Major League
Baseball Statistics and History. Web. <http://www.baseballreference.com/awards/hof_1967.shtml>.
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"Doby, Larry | Baseball Hall of Fame." Baseball Hall of Fame |. Web.