The Jackie Robinson story has been told and of course, has its place in baseball history. Nobody can relate to the unfair treatment, racism and hate he encountered breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. We honor Jackie every season on April 15th for Jackie Robinson day, where all MLB players wear number 42 in his honor. Less than three months after Robinson made his MLB debut, Doby made his for the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947 as a 23 year old outfielder.
Unlike Robinson, Doby did not get that much of a chance to play in his first season in Cleveland. Despite being at the MLB level by July 5, he only played in 29 games, batting just 32 times and doing so, finishing the season with just 5 hits (.156). However, Doby did establish himself as the Indians regular center fielder in 1948, the year the Indians won the World Series over the Boston Braves. He hit .301 that season, with 14 HR, 88 RBI and 83 RS in 121 games. He was also 7-22 with a HR in the World Series. Doby would remain the Indians regular CF for the next several seasons, putting up solid power numbers, including two 30 HR seasons and 4 100 RBI seasons. He finished 2nd in the AL MVP voting in the 1954 season, hitting .272, 32, 126 for the Indians as they won the AL Pennant. However, his 2-16 had a say in the Indians 4 game loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Doby's last five seasons were spent in sort of a utility role, playing for the White Sox, Indians and Tigers. He was re-acquired by the White Sox during the 1959 season, where they won their first AL Pennant since 1919. He retired after the season, finishing off his 13 year MLB career.
Before the 1975 season, eventual Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson was named player manager for the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first African American manager in MLB history. After Robinson was out as manager during the 1977 season, Doby took over the White Sox 74 games into the 1978 season, replacing Bob Lemon. He was 37-50 at the helm for a team that finished the season with 91 losses.
Jackie Robinson's story was one for the ages. Nobody should have ever had to go through what he went through. Doby went through a lot of the same unfortunate issues Robinson went through, especially being the first African American player in American League history. Doby was not inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame until 1998, something that is inexcusable. Doby, without a doubt, lost a couple of early seasons because of no integration and his numbers and impact warranted a call earlier. Here's to remembering the great Larry Doby, on the 10 anniversary of his death.