GREATNESS IN THE SHADOWS: Larry Doby and the Integration of the American League

GREATNESS IN THE SHADOWS                 DOUGLAS BRANSON

                                         
                                       Just weeks after Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larry Doby joined Robinson in breaking the color barrier in the major leagues when he became the first black player to integrate the American League, signing with the Cleveland Indians in July 1947. Doby went on to be a seven-time All-Star center fielder who led the Indians to two pennants. In many respects Robinson and Doby were equals in their baseball talent and experiences and had remarkably similar playing careers: both were well-educated, well-spoken World War II veterans and both had played spectacularly, albeit briefly, in the Negro Leagues. Like Robinson, Doby suffered brickbats, knock-down pitches, spit in his face, and other forms of abuse and discrimination. Doby was also a pioneering manager, becoming the second black manager after Frank Robinson.

Well into the 1950s Doby was the only African American All-Star in the American League during a period in which fifteen black players became National League All-Stars. Why is Doby largely forgotten as a central figure in baseball’s integration? Why has he not been accorded his rightful place in baseball history? Greatness in the Shadows attempts to answer these questions, bringing Doby’s story to life and sharing his achievements and firsts with a new generation.

PAT'S REVIEW 

     This was a very interesting book. First even though I knew of the name Larry Doby I did not know that he entered the American League 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson. He was also for a number of years was the only African American playing in the American League, while the National League would continue to add players. Also he was the star of the 1948 World Series, first African American to hit a homerun in the World Series, first to play on a championship in both the Major league with the Cleveland Indians and also with the Newark in the Negro Leagues. First to win the Major League home run title (1952), and again in 1954. There are other stats as well, one is that he was also the second African American Manager in the big leagues, so not only the second player but also the second manager, and you know what he never complained once about any of it. He did not go to the minors for a year he went straight to the majors, and Bill Veeck tried do things to help him but not everything worked out. the bases of this book really is that the author is trying to say that while he played in Cleveland he did not get the press as did the players in the New York market, which is true for the most part. The author also goes into the press having favorites. That is also true just look at how the Press treated Maris as opposed to Mantle. If Mantle would have hit 61 it would have been totally different, but he got hurt and they lit into Maris. Doby playing for the Indians was hammered by the local press and the author goes into it. I did find out that there is a section in Yogi Berra museum all about Larry Doby. Their families were very good friends and Yogi made it part of the deal to have a museum that Larry Doby had to be included. I thought that was very interesting. There was a lot about Larry Doby I did not know about and though yes he was the second person he still was the first for the American League and for years was the only African American representing the American League not just because he was African American but because he had the numbers and for most of the 50’s he was the only one. The history between the two leagues is very interesting because Bill Veeck had a hand in integrating the Indians and then when he became owner of the White Sox he did the same with them. While National League teams would have three players some American League teams would have one or none until the late 50’s or early 60’s. Doby would be the last to retire from playing for the players who would come into the game between 47 and 50, but he did not get elected into the Hall of Fame until 1998, and the Indians did retire his #14 and have a statue in front of their stadium of Larry Doby. Overall a good book. I got this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 4 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com      

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