Larry Doby, 1947
Larry Doby wasn’t your typical rookie when he put on an Indians uniform for the first time on July 5, 1947. He was a Negro Leagues star who began his career at 17. He and Monte Irvin were key cogs that helped Newark Eagles win a championship after he served the Navy.
So just image the pressure Doby must’ve felt as the first African-American to play in the American League. Jackie Robinson had broke the color barrier in April of that year, and the stories of what Robinson had to deal with are well documented.
Doby didn’t get off to a smooth start on the field, going 0-1 in his lone appearance during his first game. He’d only get 33 plate appearances the rest of the year.
The next year is when Doby broke out. He’d hit .301 (.848 OPS) and then he’d hit a home run and hit .318 en route to help the Indians win the World Series–the last the organization’s been able to claim.
Doby would go onto a Hall of Fame career while earning a place as one of the greatest Indians of all time.