Jackie Robinson was the first to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, but Larry Doby wasn’t far behind.
Doby, who was born in Camden and lived there until he was 14, became the first black player to play in the American League when he joined the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947. His appearance came 11 weeks after Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League.
“Very tough,” Doby told reporters of his experience in the majors. “I’d never faced any circumstances like that. Teammates were lined up and some would greet you and some wouldn’t. You could deal with it, but it was hard.”
Doby, who died in 2003, was a seven-time all-star and spent 13 seasons in the majors with the Indians, Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers. He hit .283 with 253 homers and 969 RBI and was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1998. The Indians retired his No. 14 jersey in 1994.
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After his playing career ended, Doby worked in the front office with the Indians and Montreal Expos and was a manager for one season with the White Sox. He also worked in the MLB commissioner’s office.
In his hometown of Camden, there are baseball fields named after him, and a statue of him was unveiled in 2013. The U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp of him in 2012.