1923 - 2003
After Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier in April of 1947, Lawrence Doby followed in July of that same year, earning a spot with the Cleveland Indians. Doby was the second black player in Major League Baseball and the first to compete in the American League. In addition to being the second to play in the majors, Doby is also the second black manager in the MLB after Frank Robinson.
If you are wondering: why haven't I heard of Larry Doby? You are not alone. Doby's successful 13-year career is often overshadowed by Jackie Robinson. This despite the pivotal role Doby played batting over .300 with 499 plate appearances during the 1948 season to help Cleveland win the 1948 World Series. In fact, Doby became the first Black player to hit a home run in the World Series when he walloped a Game 4 moon shot off of Boston Braves pitcher Johnny Sain.
Though Doby avoided the national media spotlight that Robinson played under, he was not spared the racial hatred or vitriol associated with breaking the color barrier. Cleveland's first baseman Eddie Robinson refused to shake hands with Doby or allow him to borrow a glove. The following season Cleveland hired a hall of fame centerfielder to teach Doby the position. Doby, a fast learner picked it up and played brilliantly in the 1948 season.
After winning the World Series in '48, the real legend began. Doby's game 4 heroics made him a more popular commodity. Doby didn't shy away from the attention. The 1949 season Doby earned his first of seven consecutive appearances on the American League All-Star team. Doby's power hitting was invaluable and he retired hitting 253 total home runs. During that seven-year hot streak, Doby ranked in the leagues top 5 for OPS and slugging percentage. But the 1952 season was his best by far. Doby led the league in slugging percentage (.541), Wins Above Replacement (7.0), home runs (32) and runs scored (104), but surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) finished 12th in MVP voting. Doby had another brilliant campaign in 1954, leading the league in home runs (32) and RBI (126), but finished second in MVP voting to Yogi Berra of the Yankees.
Lawrence Eugene Doby was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1998