President Donald Trump signed legislation into law that will posthumously honor Larry Doby with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian honor, for his role in breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier.
“Paterson’s favorite son, Larry Doby, will finally be given the recognition from the United States government he has long deserved,” Rep. Bill Pascrell said on Monday afternoon. “What Larry faced would have broken most men and women. Unspeakable racism, threats of violence, and shunning from even his teammates. But he endured because of unshakable courage and incredible character.”
Lawrence Eugene “Larry” Doby broke the color barrier in the American League when he joined the Cleveland Indians. Months earlier, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the National League.
Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina. He moved to Paterson 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.
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.
“Larry Doby was a great man and a hero,” Pascrell said.