Politics & Government

SC senators want to honor baseball pioneer with gold medal

South Carolina’s senators are co-sponsoring legislation to honor a Palmetto State baseball legend who helped integrate Major League Baseball.

Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, and Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, are among eight lawmakers sponsoring a resolution to award Larry Doby a congressional gold medal on the 70th anniversary of his historic accomplishment.

A Camden native, Doby became the first African-American player in the American League when he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1947, erasing the last color barrier in professional baseball.

Doby made his debut 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson first played for the National League’s Brooklyn Dodgers.

“Being the ‘first’ to break through barriers is often a responsibility that is met with enormous sacrifice and perseverance,” Scott said in a statement announcing the move.

“Doby’s contribution to Major League Baseball, the Civil Rights movement, and his service to our nation will forever be etched in our country’s history,” he said.

Doby was born in Camden in 1923 and later moved to Paterson, N.J. He attended Long Island University on a basketball scholarship before he left to serve in the Navy during World War II.

In 1946, he joined the Newark Eagles of the National Negro League before his play earned him a spot with the Indians a year later. In 13 years in the majors, Doby played 1,533 games, hit 253 home runs and had 970 runs batted in, finishing with a .283 batting average. He was a part of the last Cleveland team to win a World Series in 1948, and went on to play with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.

Doby later became the manager of the White Sox in 1978, the second African-American manager in major league history.

He died in 2003.