Interview with Lawrence E. Doby, November 15, 1979
Project: A. B. "Happy" Chandler: Desegregation of Major League Baseball Oral History Project
Interview SummaryLawrence "Larry" Doby played in both the Negro Leagues and in Major League baseball. He was the first African American player in American League baseball, joining the Cleveland Indians in 1947. In this interview, he discusses growing up in Camden, South Carolina, his early experiences with segregation and racism, his move to New Jersey and involvement in athletics, his educational background and military service in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, segregation in the Navy, and his friendship with Mickey Vernon. He talks about playing for the Newark Eagles, a Negro League team, in 1942 and 1943, his salary with the Newark Eagles, the caliber of play in the Negro Leagues, travel in the Negro Leagues, his relationship with Abe and Effa Manley, the decline of the Negro Leagues, Bill Veeck's compensation to Effa Manley for signing Doby, and barnstorming with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe. He talks about the reaction to Jackie Robinson's signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, his (Doby's) aspiration to play in the major leagues, a discussion he had with Roy Campanella about playing with the Dodgers, his signing with the Cleveland Indians, his last game with the Newark Eagles on the Fourth of July, and the trip to Chicago to meet with Bill Veeck. He discusses Louie Jones, Helyn Doby's reaction to her husband's signing with Cleveland and his first season, her support of her husband's career, the role of religion in Doby's family, his first game at Comiskey Park in Chicago, the prejudice exhibited by Cleveland's players, the friendships Doby developed with some of those players, Branch Rickey, and Bill Veeck's role in the integration of major league baseball. He discusses black athletes whom he admired, and reflects on his lack of playing time during his first season with Cleveland. He talks about his enjoyment of the game of baseball, his relationship with Lou Boudreau, Bill McKechnie's role in his switch to the outfield, his aspirations to be a two-sport athlete, his salary while playing for Cleveland, the 1948 season, the 1948 playoff with Boston, the 1948 World Series, exhibition games against the Brooklyn Dodgers, his relationship with Jackie Robinson, and the popularity of the National League versus the American League. He discusses the racist actions of opposing players, segregation during spring training and during the season, the attitude his teammates had about black players, and his teammates Bob Feller, Dale Mitchell, Hank Edwards, Ken Keltner, James Hegan, Eddie Robinson, Gene Bearden, Joe Tipton, Johnny Berardino, Bob Kennedy, Russ Christopher, Bob Moncrief, Allie Clark, Walt Judnich, Ray Murry, Hal Peck, Thurman Tucker, Sam Zoldak, Steve Gromak, Don Black, and Bob Lemon. Other topics include Satchel Paige, hitting the high fastball, Doby's batting statistics, Hank Greenberg's hitting instructions, Muddy Ruel, Bill Veeck's promotions, the fan support for teams with black players, Luke Easter, the lack of blacks in management and front office positions in baseball in 1979, and Happy Chandler as baseball commissioner.
Interview RightsAll rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Doby, Lawrence E. Interview by William J. Marshall. 15 Nov. 1979. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Doby, L.E. (1979, November 15). Interview by W. J. Marshall. A. B. "Happy" Chandler: Desegregation of Major League Baseball Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Doby, Lawrence E., interview by William J. Marshall. November 15, 1979, A. B. "Happy" Chandler: Desegregation of Major League Baseball Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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