|Indians wear No. 14 vs. Yankees to honor Larry Doby, AL's first black player|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 10 August 2007 13:14|
Doby was surrounded by prejudice everywhere: on the street, in the clubhouse, and especially on the field.
``He got taunted, and there were bench jockeys who would ride him,'' Larry Doby Jr. said while standing next to Cleveland's dugout at Jacobs Field. ``But he never held any grudges. He forgave. He didn't forget.''
The Indians honored Doby on Friday night as each member of Cleveland's team wore the Hall of Famer's No. 14 to honor the 60th anniversary of him following Jackie Robinson over baseball's color barrier.
In April, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a similar tribute for Robinson, who was also saluted by other major league players wearing his 42 - one of the most famous numbers in American sports.
Although Doby's story is not as well known as Robinson's, it's no less significant.
``Sure, I know about him,'' said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. ``What he did was important for the game. He went through all the same things that Jackie Robinson did, only in the AL. It's great to see him getting honored.''
When he first came to Cleveland, Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia knew little about Doby or his difficult path to the majors. But after seeing a documentary on Doby last year, Sabathia wanted to learn more and he helped the Indians' push major league baseball to have a day for the Indians outfielder.
``It's awesome,'' Sabathia said. ``Larry Doby deserves to be recognized for all that he did, and it's great the Indians are getting to do something like this. There are probably a lot of guys playing today who don't know about what Larry Doby stood for. That's what makes this more important.''
Sabathia caught the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Larry Doby Jr., who played briefly in the minor leagues but never got to see his father play.
``I heard stories about some long home runs that he hit,'' he said. ``And I know how much guys like Bob Lemon meant to him for what they did.''
Doby made his major league debut on July 5, 1947, two days after he was signed by Indians owner Bill Veeck. He batted just .156 in 29 games that season, but the next year Doby hit .301 with 14 homers and 66 RBIs as Cleveland won the pennant and World Series.
He batted a team-leading .318 in the series and homered off Boston Braves pitcher Johnny Sain in a Game 4 win.
In 1952, Doby, a center fielder, led the AL in home runs (32) and runs (104). Two years later, he led the league in homers (32) and RBIs (126) as the Indians reached the World Series, where they were swept by the New York Giants.
Doby Jr. said his father fell in love with Cleveland and its fans the moment he arrived.
``They never booed him here,'' Doby Jr. said. ``He said the people of Cleveland always had his back.''
The younger Doby said his father, who was 79 when he died in 2003, would be moved by the tribute.
``It's overwhelming that the Indians would see fit to do this for him,'' he said. ``I know he would have a tear in his eye.''