Column/Top things you should know about Larry Doby

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 16, 2007

I’m afraid in all the talk and celebration about Jackie Robinson’s impact on Major League Baseball, we’re too hung up on titles.

Robinson was “great,” and he was a “pioneer.” But all he is to most people is a name.

And although you can never give the man too much credit, there’s one player that doesn’t get nearly enough.

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I hate that Larry Doby is still overlooked, even by people who call themselves baseball fans and experts.

I hate even more that just because he entered the major leagues after Robinson, people think Doby’s contribution to the game wasn’t quite as important.

I don’t know that what I have to say would make more of a difference if I screamed it from the top of a tall building, but I’ll take a shot anyway.

In “The List” this week, you’ll find Larry Doby was …

5. The first black player in the American League – While Robinson was getting fastballs thrown at his head and receiving death threats while a member of the National League’s Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Doby was suffering the same treatment with the Cleveland Indians. The center fielder made his major league debut July 5, 1947 – nearly three months after Robinson.

4. Also the second black manager in the majors – It seemed Doby was fated to follow another man’s footsteps once again when he signed to manage the Chicago White Sox in 1978.

Frank Robinson was the first black manager in the majors when he took the helm of, coincidentally, the Indians in 1975.

3. A seven-time All Star – This is one of the few areas Doby did Robinson one better. Doby played in the All-Star Game from 1949-55. Robinson was an All Star each one of those years except the latter.

2. A good power hitter – Doby homered 20 times or more from 1949-56, back in the day when 20 bombs was still a high mark for players.

He finished his career with 253 home runs and 970 RBIs.

1. Underappreciated – Despite hitting more home runs, playing in more games and receiving less support from his teammates and the media than did Robinson, most people wouldn’t know Doby from a ham sandwich.

It’s a shame what we teach our kids these days.

George L. Jones is sports editor of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at (334) 410-1744 or .