Hometown baseball legend Larry Doby received the green-light from the U.S. Congress to posthumously get the Congressional Gold Medal.
As of Thursday, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed legislation to recognize Doby for his role in breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier.
President Donald Trump will now have to sign the bill into law.
“Today is a joyous day for sports and for this country,” Rep. Bill Pascrell said on Thursday. “Larry Doby endured horrendous racism and malice on and off the field to move America forward.”
Doby moved to Paterson from South Carolina as a teenager and became a standout athlete at Eastside High School. He played for the Newark Eagles in the Negro National League after attending Long Island University on a basketball scholarship and serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
In July 1947, he joined the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first African-American to play in the American League. In his 13-year career in the American League, he tallied 1,553 games, batting .283 with 253 home runs and 970 runs batted in. Doby played in two World Series and was the first black player to hit a home run in a World Series game.
“The vitriol he had thrown at him would’ve crushed most people, but Larry was an incredibly courageous man who understood the importance of helping to break the color barrier in baseball. For too long, Larry Doby’s courageous contributions to American civil rights have been overlooked,” Pascrell said. “Awarding him this medal from our national legislature will give his family and his legacy more well-deserved recognition for his heroism.”
Pascrell thanked his colleagues in the U.S. Congress: Rep. Jim Renacci; senators Sherrod Brown, Rob Portman, Cory Booker, and Bob Menendez; and others for their giving Doby his due.
“Larry Doby joined the Major Leagues shortly after the great Jackie Robinson and faced the same struggles and barriers without the same recognition. Every time I walk through Progressive Field, I am reminded of his contribution to Cleveland and America’s favorite pastime,” said Renacci. “I am proud that members of House and Senate could rally around recognizing Larry Doby’s incredible life and career and get our efforts on the President’s desk.”
Doby managed the Chicago White Sox after his baseball career. He later served as the director of community relations for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. He was inducted into the National baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
Paterson renamed the baseball field at Eastside Park after Doby. He also appeared on a U.S. Postal Service stamp in 2012.