CLEVELAND, OH — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined the Cleveland Indians organization to present a signed copy of The Larry Doby Congressional Medal Act to the family of former Indian Larry Doby. Doby was the first African-American to play in the American League, effectively integrating all of professional baseball.
“Larry Doby seldom receives credit for his role in integrating all of professional baseball and its past time to honor his contributions to both civil rights and America’s game,” said Brown, who displays in his Washington, D.C. office a replica of the statue of Doby that stands at Progressive Field. “Doby’s heroism surpasses his remarkable skill – he overcame discrimination and hostility to break barriers, leading Cleveland to victory and moving our country in the right direction.”
Brown and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced legislation to honor Larry Doby for his career and contributions to the American civil rights movement. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent and President Trump signed the bill into law last December.
Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum all supported Brown’s bill.
ABOUT LARRY DOBY:
Lawrence Eugene “Larry” Doby joined the Cleveland Indians in July 1947, becoming the first African-American to play in the American League. During his 13-year career in the American League, Doby tallied 1,533 games, batting .283, with 253 home runs and 970 runs batted in. He played in two World Series, leading the 1948 Cleveland Indians to a World Championship over the Boston Braves. He was the first African-American player to hit a home run in a World Series game, led the American League in home runs twice, and was voted to seven All-Star teams.
In 1978, the Chicago White Sox hired Doby as their manager and he became the second African-American manager in Major League history. He later served as Director of Community Relations for the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association. He was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2013.
Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina in 1923 and moved to Paterson, New Jersey in 1938, where he became a standout athlete at Paterson Eastside High School. He attended Long Island University on a basketball scholarship before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was discharged in 1946 and went on to play baseball in the Negro National League for the Newark Eagles. Doby passed away in 2003.