It’s been a long time coming, but on Saturday afternoon the Cleveland Indians unveiled a statue in honor of the late Larry Doby, the man to break the color barrier in the American League just a couple months after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. The statue is located outside the remodeled center field entrance outside Progressive Field.
Doby is the third former Cleveland Indian to have a statue in his honor joining Bob Feller and Jim Thome. Members of Doby’s family were in attendance for the unveiling before the Indians took on the Chicago White Sox. Former Indian Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant was also in attendance. Both Grant and Larry Doby Jr. spoke at the ceremony.
The Indians decided to unveil the statue this weekend because Doby played for both the Indians and White Sox during his career. Doby played for the Indians and White Sox twice and spent part of one season as a member of the Detroit Tigers before his playing career was over. Doby even managed the White Sox for 87 games during the 1978 season.
Doby made his Indians debut on July 5, 1947, less than three months after Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Doby’s number 14 is retired by the Indians. Doby’s first stint with the Indians lasted from 1947 through 1955. The next two seasons Doby would play for the White Sox before returning to Cleveland for the 1958 season. Doby would move on to the Tigers in 1959 and would finish that season and his playing career again with the White Sox later that season.
Doby would make seven consecutive All-Star game appearances as a member of Indians from 1949 through 1955 and was a part of the last Indians World Series championship team back in 1948. Doby also played for the 1954 Indians team, that won 111 games but lost to Willie Mays and his New York Giants in the World Series.
In 1954 Doby lead the American League in runs batted in with 126. Doby lead the American League twice in home runs in 1952 and 1954. He hit 32 home runs in each of those seasons.
Doby was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1998 by the veterans committee. The statue isn’t the only tribute the Indians organization has presented in Doby’s honor. In 2012 the Indians renamed Eagle Avenue,located right outside of Progressive Field as Larry Doby way. Doby also threw out the ceremonial first before the 1997 All-Star game at then Jacob’s Field in honor of the 50th anniversary of him and Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. The All-Star game took place three days after the 50th anniversary of Doby’s debut.
Doby passed away in 2001 of cancer.