A history lesson of segregation in MLB and the African Americans.
MLB Recognizes The Negro League Players
For decades MLB allowed segregation of African American baseball players. Finally, after ignoring and accepting the skill of the Negro League, it was decided to include their stats from 1920 to 1948, which meant 3400 players would now include them to MLB status. It was a long time coming and the right thing to do.
In 1920, Rube Foster (1879-1930), known as the 'Father of Baseball', organized the Negro League of baseball. Rube was considered a genius in handling players. He was always fair but demanded hard work. His Negro League team was the Chicago American Giants with notable players like Bruce Petway, John Henry 'Pop' Lloyd, Pete Hill, and "Cannonball" Dick Redding.
The Negro Leagues played for the love of sports. They played wherever they could, sandlots, city parks, and fairgrounds. White teams refused to play with them, perhaps sensing being outplayed. The Negro League was ignored by sportswriters, scouts, and owners until that immortal day in 1947 when the color barrier was broken in MLB.
Larry Doby Broke the Color Barrier In The MLB American League
Doby followed Jackie Robinson in breaking MLB's color barrier. Consequently, he will always be remembered as 'second.' With grace and dignity, Doby never begrudged Robinson's status. Instead, he was grateful the barriers were broken, and those to follow would be acknowledged.
Many Negro League players felt Satchel Paige would break the color barrier or Josh Gordon. Satchel pitched his first MLB play for the Indians on July 9, 1948.
Doby was born in 1923 in Camden, South Carolina but grew up with his grandmother. He was drafted into the U.S. Navy during WW II. After the war, he played for the Newark Eagles when the Cleveland Indians purchased his contract from them for $15,000. This made Doby the first African American to go directly from the Negro Leagues to the majors.
Playing for the Indians in the 1948 World Series, he hit the winning home run. A crowd of 81,000 stood up and cheered, not caring about the color of his skin. A new era in MLB had begun. But, it wasn't always easy, as racism persisted.
Both Robinson and Doby had to deal with taunts, death threats, hate mail from fans, players, and even owners.
Doby played thirteen seasons in the American League with 253 Home Runs, 070 RBIs, seven times an All-Star, runner-up to Yogi Berra for the 1954 MVP.
With the color barrier broken, Robinson and Doby paved the way for Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal, and many more. And this sounded the end for the Negro Leagues.
Larry Doby Awards
Awards for Larry Doby:
1950 Voted Best Centerfielder by Sporting News
1951 MLB Man of The Year
1993 Inducted into New Jersey Hall of Fame
1998 Inducted into MLB Hall of Fame
Larry Doby died June 18, 2003, in New Jersey. He was cremated with his ashes given to a close friend.
The End Of The Negro Baseball Leagues
And so, in 1947, with the color barrier broken in MLB, as it should have been, the demise of the Negro Leagues in Baseball ended. The MLB teams siphoned off African American players, thus ending the league. The only thing the African American baseball players did was born in a racist society.
They knew they were great players, and it is well deserved. MLB has finally recognized them. There are 36 players of the Negro League in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After the barrier was broken in 1947, it still took twenty-four years before any from the Negro Leagues was inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame, and in part, it was due to Ted Williams and his plea to them to act.
The Negro League Hall of Fame is located at 1616 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Missouri, 816-221-1920. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the Negro League.