Larry Doby was the second African American to play major league baseball and the first to play in the American League.
Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina on December 13, 1923. He moved to New Jersey and attended Eastside School in Paterson where he played baseball, football and basketball. After high school he attended Long Island University.
Doby joined the Negro Baseball League in 1942 and played with the Newark Eagles. He left the Eagles to serve in the United States Navy during World War II. After his military service he rejoined the Eagles and in 1946 led the team to the Negro League championship.
In 1947, a few weeks after Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was recruited by Bill Veeck and became a member of the Cleveland Indians. Though not as widely reported, Doby experienced the same racism and discrimination that Jackie Robinson faced, and like Robinson he persevered and became a key player on his team.
Doby helped the Indians win the 1948 World Series, and in 1952 and 1954 was the league’s home run leader. He was also the first black player to hit a home run in a World Series game.
In 1998, after being overlooked for many years, Doby was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 2003 in Montclair, New Jersey.
NOTE: In 1997, I had the honor of working with the Paterson Museum on the overdue exhibit, “Larry Doby- Silk City Slugger: First in the American League.”