Meet Larry Doby, the second African-American to play in the Major Leagues
“Larry Doby to me is a forgotten person...he paved the way for a lot of players, but he never got the recognition.”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - This past weekend, Major League and Minor League Baseball paid tribute to a milestone moment.
Franchises across the country celebrated the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking barriers by being the first Black man to integrate the sport when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers back in 1947.
Often overshadowed by Robinson is another man of color who would be tagged for big-time baseball, this one hailing from our local area.
Larry Doby began playing on the diamonds of Camden, S.C., and has since been honored with a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Ray Banks, an ambassador for the Negro Leagues, feels more should be done to recognize him.
“Larry Doby to me is a forgotten person, and when you become number one, people recognize you,” Banks said. “He paved the way for a lot of players, but he never got the recognition.”
Doby was number two. His debut came 11 weeks after Robinson made his with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Doby was signed by the Cleveland Indians after a successful career with the Newark Eagles, becoming just the second Black player signed to the majors, and the first to play in the American League.
Larry LeGrande played with the Kansas City Monarchs and was the catcher for one of the most well-known Black baseball players in pitcher Satchel Page.
“We were excited to see Larry Doby, because he without a doubt was one of the greatest hitters of all time,” LeGrande said. “He doesn’t get his recognition.”
Over this past weekend at Truist Field, the Charlotte Knights showcased the triumphs of what became known as Black Baseball, with its players wearing Robinson’s No. 42.
Praise not only came to the early athletic pioneers during the weekend’s ceremonies, but also one local HBCU.
During its formative years, Johnson C. Smith University was known as Biddle Institute, and sent its share of players into the segregated baseball leagues.
“They had a baseball team from the late 1890s until [the] 1930s,” JCSU archivist Brandon Lunsford said. “A lot of the players who played for Biddle and Smith ended up playing for lots of negro teams.”
Although many years later, applause was eventually showered on the former players who succeeded during the days when Jim Crow rules played a defining role in professional sports.
Robinson received the cherished Hall-of-Fame call from Cooperstown in 1962, while Doby would have to wait 36 more years.
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