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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

The crack-of-dawn call to Larry Doby that changed baseball

While Jackie Robinson’s color-barrier-breaking debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers 11 weeks earlier was a cultural touchstone and a vital precursor to the American civil rights movement, it is important to consider what the purchase of Doby’s contract meant not just for the now-integrated AL, but for baseball’s framework.

Robinson, after all, had signed his contract with the Dodgers in October 1945, and spent the entire 1946 season in the Minor Leagues with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Montreal. He was promoted to the Majors six days before the start of the 1947 season, unofficially debuting in an exhibition game at Ebbets Field four days before the real thing.

Doby, on the other hand, arrived to the AL literally overnight, on a Pennsylvania Railroad train, to make his debut—75 years ago today—on July 5, 1947, against the White Sox.

So, something more definitive was communicated by Doby coming to Cleveland. If Jackie was baseball’s experiment with integration, or the sowing of a seed, Doby was proof that the seed had taken root. There could be no denying now about what was happening and what would happen. The death knell had been sounded—bittersweetly—for the Negro Leagues, with the best Black players plucked and rostered and finally able to display their talents on baseball’s biggest stage.

“The entrance of Negroes into the Majors is not only inevitable,” Cleveland owner Bill Veeck told a reporter when the Doby signing became official, “it is here.”

The desegregated Major Leagues, which should have been in existence all along, was finally going to happen.

And in Larry Doby’s case, it was going to happen fast.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 05, 2022 at 11:56 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: larry doby, racial discrimination

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   1. Hombre Brotani Posted: July 06, 2022 at 12:23 AM (#6085703)
In related news, if you get a chance, catch the documentary "After Jackie" that focuses on Bob Gibson, Bill White, and Curt Flood.

The older I get, the less celebratory I feel about Robinson's breaking of the color barrier, and the more I relate to the simmering anger the great man felt the entire rest of his life.

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