WASHINGTON, DC – President Donald Trump is the only thing standing in the way of Larry Doby receiving the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.
Under legislation spearheaded by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., and passed Thursday by the House of Representatives, Doby, who grew up in Paterson after moving from South Carolina, would be awarded the honor.
“Today is a joyous day for sports and for this country,” said Pascrell. “Larry Doby endured horrendous racism and malice on and off the field to move America forward. The vitriol he had thrown at him would’ve crushed most people, but Larry was an incredibly courageous man who understood the importance of helping to break the color barrier in baseball. For too long, Larry Doby’s courageous contributions to American civil rights have been overlooked. Awarding him this medal from our national legislature will give his family and his legacy more well-deserved recognition for his heroism. I want to thank Rep. Jim Renacci; Senators Sherrod Brown, Rob Portman, Cory Booker, and Bob Menendez; and so many others for their hard work in finally giving Larry his due.”
After serving in the United States Navy in World War II and playing in the Negro League for the Newark Eagles, including in Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium, Lawrence Eugene “Larry” Doby who passed away at the age of 79 in 2003 became the first African American to play professional baseball in the American League in 1947.
Doby was a central figure in the Indians two World Series appearances during that era. (For those who ae uninformed, the Indians versusYankees was the rivalry of that era.) The left-handed hitting centerfielder finished 29th in the 1948 American League MVP voting, despite reaching base at .384 clip, and slugging 490. Doby finished 8th in 1950, and 12th in 1952 before finishing Yogi Berra in 1954, despite the Yankees finishing in second behind a record-setting Indians club. Doby led the American League in home runs with 32 while driving in a league leading 126 runs.
Enshrined in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 and with the U.S. Post Office at 194 Ward Street named in his honor, Doby had a storied career appearing in 1,533 games as a player appearing in seven All-Star games in his 13-year career, becoming the first African American to hit a home run in a World Series, and setting a record for 164 consecutive games without an error. Route 120 in the Meadowlands is also known as The Larry Doby Highway.
In 1975, Doby was once again by-passed for pioneer status, as the Indians hired Frank Robinson to be a player-manager, becoming the first black manager in baseball history. In 1978, Doby became just the second black Major League club manager when he was hired as the skipper for the Chicago White Sox, where he spent two of his final three years as a player. Doby also played for the Detroit Tigers and had a second stint with the Indians before he retired.
After retiring from baseball, Doby was named director of communications for the New Jersey Nets from 1980 to 1989 and also served as the Nets' director of community affairs until 1990. Doby was named special assistant to the American League's last president Gene Budig on April 17, 1995.
After his career, Doby's accomplishments were acknowledged, as recognition grew for his ability as a player and a pioneer.
Doby was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame in August 1966. In May 1973, he was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame and in 2010, the New Jersey Hall of Fame. The franchise again honored him when in 2012, when the team renamed Eagle Avenue, next to the Indians' Progressive Field " Larry Doby Way"
The city of Paterson, New Jersey, renamed the Eastside Park's baseball field "Larry Doby Field" on June 1, 2002. The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center has the Larry Doby Wing. Doby noted that Yogi was one the first opposing players to speak to him. In 2012, the United States Postal Service honored Doby along with Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Willie Stargell, putting their likenesses on a postage stamp as part of their "Major League All Stars" series.