First to break the color line in the American League when he debuted for the Cleveland Indians on July 8, 1947
If you’re not first … sometimes you just don’t get the recognition you deserve. Such is the story of Larry Doby. An absolutely terrific baseball player, Doby was the first black man to cross the color line in the American League. He did so on July 5, 1947. The problem for Doby is simple, it came three months after Jackie Robinson was the first to do so when he crossed the color line for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Interestingly enough, then Cleveland Indians owner, Bill Veeck, had his eye on Doby long before Branch Rickey had his eye on Robinson. But, Rickey beat Veeck and Robinson, deservedly so, gets the recognition. However, the story of Larry Doby is one that also needs to be told. He faced the same hurdles Robinson did and the two formed a bond that only they could understand. And, while Robinson was first, one accolade Robinson can’t claim is this … the first black man to star on a Major League Baseball World Championship team was Larry Doby. While he played sparingly during his half-season with the Indians in 1947, he was a fixture in centerfield for Cleveland in 1948 and helped lead them to a World Series win over the Boston Braves in six games … the last World Series won by Cleveland. On this episode of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, special guest – Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro League’s Baseball Museum – joins the podcast for a wonderful discussion about a baseball great, Hall of Fame outfielder Larry Doby.
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