Larry Doby Makes History 73 Years Ago Today

Larry Doby
1948: Larry Doby, centerfielder of the Cleveland Indians, hit a home run, during his second season in 1948. (Photo by The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images)

Historical Landmark for Baseball

Today is a historical date in many ways for the Cleveland Indians and their fans. Seventy-three years ago today, Larry Doby made history. Doby became the first African-American player to appear in a game in the American League.

Although Doby doesn’t get as much recognition as Jackie Robinson, he still was paramount in breaking the color barrier in baseball. As Doby demonstrated during his big league career, African-Americans can play the game at the same elite level as players of other nationalities.

Additionally, Doby helped to build the brand of Indians baseball. Cleveland now has a significant amount of history as a franchise. Without Doby, the Indians’ franchise history might not be as significant.

Recapping Larry Doby’s Career

Doby was 23 years old when he made his official MLB debut. The eventual Hall of Famer spent a total of ten seasons with the Indians. Furthermore, Doby spent three years with the Chicago White Sox and a season in the motor city with the Detroit Tigers. His career came to an end with the White Sox at the age of 35.

Over his tenure with the Indians, the centerfielder was named an All-Star on seven different occasions. Additionally, Doby finished in the top 10 in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting twice. The first came in 1950 with an 8th place finish, while the second was in 1954 when he was runner-up to New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.

When you look at the offense and defense overall, Doby definitely had a bigger impact offensively. Over the ten seasons with the Indians, he recorded a total of 5,082 plate appearances and played in 1,235 games. During that span, he recorded 1,234 hits, 190 doubles, 45 triples, 215 home runs, 776 RBI, 703 walks, and 805 strikeouts.

In 1950, when he finished 8th in AL MVP voting, Doby put up a career-high on-base percentage of .442 and a career-high OPS+ of 156 over 142 games. Furthermore, when 1954 rolled around, he matched his career-high in home runs with 32 and recorded the most RBI in his career with 132.

Final Thoughts

In many ways, when the color barrier discussion comes up, Jackie Robinson is the name predominantly mentioned. However, Larry Doby had just as much impact on baseball, the American League, and the Cleveland Indians. If it weren’t for Doby, that color barrier might have been even more blurred.

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