Larry Doby (December 13, 1923 - June 18, 2003), was an American professional baseball player in the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball. A native of Camden, South Carolina, he was the second black player to play in the modern major leagues, and the first to do so in the American League. A center fielder, Doby appeared in seven All-Star games, and finished second in the 1954 American League MVP voting. He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Hall's Veterans Committee. He is one of five Hall-of-Famers to have grown up in New Jersey, though he was born elsewhere.
A local star athlete from Paterson, New Jersey, Doby joined the Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues at the age of 17 in 1942, starring as a second baseman. At that time he played under the name Larry Walker to protect his amateur status. His career in Newark was interrupted for two years for service in the Navy. He then rejoined the Eagles in 1946. Along with his partner, fellow Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, Doby led the team to the Negro League Championship.
Doby was signed by the Cleveland Indians by their owner Bill Veeck in 1947, eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League. In his rookie season, Doby hit 5-for-32 in 29 games.
During the 1997 season, when the long-departed Jackie Robinson's number 42 was being retired throughout baseball, and the still-living Larry Doby was being virtually ignored by the media, an editorial in Sports Illustrated pointed out that Doby had to suffer the same indignities that Robinson did, and with nowhere near the media attention and implicit support.
More pointedly, in The Great American Baseball Card Book, the writers included a picture of Doby's baseball card and said that being the second black ballplayer was, in the minds of the press, akin to being "the second man to invent the telephone".
In 1948, Doby became an important piece of Cleveland's World Series victory. He also helped the Indians to the American League 111-victories pennant in 1954.
At the end of the 1955 season, Doby was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Chico Carrasquel and Jim Busby. He returned to Cleveland in 1958 for a short period of time, finishing his majors career in 1959 with the White Sox (again hired by Bill Veeck) after a brief stint with the Detroit Tigers.
Doby was a .283 career hitter with 253 home runs and 970 RBI in 1533 games. He hit at least 20 homers in each season from 1949-56, leading the league in 1952 (32) and 1954 (32), and appearing between the top ten leaders in seven seasons (1949, 1951-56). He hit for the cycle (1952), and also led the league in runs in 1952 (104), RBI in 1954 (126), on base percentage in 1950 (.442), slugging average in 1952 (.541), and OPS in 1950 (.986).
In 1962, Doby became the third American to play professional baseball in the Japanese baseball league, after Wally Kaname Yonamine and Don Newcombe. After retiring, he managed the White Sox in 1978. In an ironic parallel, Doby was also the second black manager in the major leagues, after Frank Robinson had become the manager of Cleveland in 1975. Once again, it was Veeck who hired Doby.
Larry Doby died in Montclair, New Jersey at age 79.