I grew up in Cleveland and have been a long-suffering Indians fan since I was a kid (and, by the way, aren't Cleveland sports fans the longest and deepest suffering fans of all??!! But I digress, that is a separate post altogether...). The Indians have the honor of being the first American League team to have a black player, Larry Doby. That made Doby the second African American player, overall, in Major League Baseball, eleven weeks behind Jackie Robinson. Unfortunately, Robinson's fame overshadowed Doby's accomplishment. In addition to integrating the AL, Doby was a 7-time All-Star and key piece to Cleveland's last World Series... in 1948... and their record 111 wins in 1954. Despite his achievements, baseball largely forgot Doby until 1997 - the same year MLB retired Jackie Robinson's number throughout the league. That year, as MLB took its traveling lovefest for Robinson across the country, a Sports Illustrated editorial pointed out that Doby had faced the same trials as Robinson, only without the media attention or support.
Finally, in 1998, long overdue, the Veterans Committee of MLB elected Doby to the Hall of Fame. Larry Doby died in 2003.
Tonight, the Indians are playing the Yankees at The Jake along the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. It's August. Both teams are in the playoff hunt. All of the Indians players are wearing No. 14 to honor the 60th anniversary of Doby's pioneering effort. Very cool.
Here is the story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
PD on Doby celebration
Here is an article from MLB.com:
MLB.com on Doby
As a Clevelander, I was particularly happy to read, "They never booed him [in Cleveland]," Larry Doby Jr. said. "He said the people of Cleveland always had his back." Right on, C-town, right on. Here's to you, Larry...