Buckeye Beat: Larry Doby

Learn a little more...with a link!

Website Article: National Baseball Hall of Fame, Larry Doby | How this Ohio baseball great made it into the Hall of Fame.

Video: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Introduction to the Negro Leagues | Take a guided tour of this league’s history.

Website Article: History.com, Negro League Baseball | This multimedia history includes images, videos & audio clips.

Read the script:

RICK: THE BASEBALL HERITAGE MUSEUM OCCUPIES THE ENTIRETY OF THE REMAINING TICKET OFFICE AT LEAGUE PARK, THE HISTORIC, 126-YEAR-OLD BALL YARD IN CLEVELAND'S HOUGH NEIGHBORHOOD. MEMORABILIA FROM NOT JUST CLEVELAND'S BASEBALL HISTORY, BUT DOCUMENTED ITEMS FROM SOME OF THE GAME'S GREATEST ARE DISPLAYED THERE.

WITH DOCENTS READY TO TALK BASEBALL, AND ON OCCASION, CLASSES OF LOCAL KIDS BEING EDUCATED ABOUT THE PASTIME THAT DATES BACK TO THE 1800S.

THE INDIANS, SPIDERS, AND BUCKEYES ARE ALL FRANCHISES THAT PLAYED HERE, AND EACH IS NOTED, AS ARE SPECIFIC PLAYERS FROM THE CITY'S PAST, BOB FELLER, SATCHEL PAIGE, NAP LAJOIE.

WHO IS HARDER TO FIND REFERENCE TO IS THE INDIAN'S LARRY DOBY, THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE, HERO OF THE LAST WORLD SERIES TITLE THIS TOWN CAN CLAIM. AND BASEBALL HISTORIAN IKE BROOKS, AS CLOSE TO A DOBY EXPERT AS WE HAVE, SAYS THE MUSEUM IS NOT ALONE IN MISSING THE CHANCE TO HONOR HIM.

IKE: THERE’S NOT A LOT ABOUT LARRY DOBY IN THIS TOWN. AND I FIND THAT DISTURBING SOMEWHAT, BECAUSE HE WAS SUCH A HERO. BUT YET, WE DON'T HEAR A LOT ABOUT HIM.

RICK: CERTAINLY NOT WHEN COMPARED TO THE HOOPLA THAT SURROUNDED JACKIE ROBINSON, THE FIRST BLACK IN THE BIGS. IN 1947, ROBINSON WAS FOLLOWED RELENTLESSLY. WEEKS LATER, DOBY GOT A PHONE CALL WHILE PLAYING FOR NEWARK IN THE NEGRO LEAGUES. HE CAUGHT A LATE NIGHT TRAIN IN NEW JERSEY, AND WAS IN THE INDIANS' MAJOR LEAGUE DUGOUT IN CHICAGO 36 HOURS LATER, WITH SUCH LITTLE FANFARE THAT EVEN HIS TRIBE TEAMMATES DIDN'T KNOW HE WAS COMING.

IKE: THERE ARE CLEAR REPORTS THAT WHEN HE WAS INTRODUCED TO HIS TEAMMATES, SOME OF THEM DID NOT, OR WOULD NOT, SHAKE HIS HAND. AND HIS TEAMMATES WERE UNSURE OF WHO HE WAS, BECAUSE OF THE SENTIMENT AT THE TIME. UNFORTUNATELY, HE FACED THE SAME KIND OF RACIST TAUNTS, THE JIM CROW LAWS, THE INABILITY TO FULLY INTERACT WITH HIS TEAMMATES, THAT JACKIE ROBINSON DID.

RICK: THERE WAS CONSTANT HECKLING, ABJECT HATRED, AND PHYSICAL THREATS TOWARD DOBY FROM THE STANDS IN WHATEVER AMERICAN LEAGUE CITIES THE INDIANS PLAYED, AND SOME INVECTIVES CAME FROM OPPOSING PLAYERS AS WELL. THE DISCRIMINATION BY HOTELS AND BY RESTAURANTS BECAME PART OF THE LORE OF THIS QUIET LEGEND, WHO ENDURED IT ALL WHILE EXCELLING BETWEEN THE WHITE LINES.

IKE: HE WAS A FIVE-TOOL PLAYER. HE COULD HIT, HE COULD HIT FOR POWER, HE COULD FIELD, HE HAD SPEED. THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT MAKE PEOPLE MILLIONAIRES TODAY. I'VE SPOKEN WITH MR. DOBY. MR. DOBY IS A LOW-KEY, QUIET, RESERVED PERSON, AND HE SAID, "WHAT I TRIED TO DO WAS DELIVER ON THE FIELD." AND THAT HE DID. AS YOU MENTION, YOU CALLED HIM A SUPERSTAR. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS AT THE TIME.

RICK: BEFORE WE HAD THE TERM.

IKE: BEFORE THE TERM, AND HE LED BY EXAMPLE.

RICK: LARRY DOBY WAS INDUCTED INTO THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME IN 1998, HONORED AS THE ALL-STAR CENTER FIELDER, THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PLAYER, ALONG WITH HIS ROOMMATE SATCHEL PAIGE, TO WIN A WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP. THAT WAS WHEN THE INDIANS TOOK THE CROWN IN 1948. AND HE REMAINED HUMBLE EVEN ON THAT DAY.

LARRY: YOU’RE PROUD AND HAPPY THAT YOU'VE BEEN A PART OF INTEGRATING BASEBALL, TO SHOW PEOPLE THAT WE CAN LIVE TOGETHER, WE CAN WORK TOGETHER, WE CAN PLAY TOGETHER, AND WE CAN BE SUCCESSFUL TOGETHER. AND I'M VERY HAPPY AND PROUD THAT I'VE BEEN A PART OF BASEBALL AND I'M STILL A PART OF IT. 

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