On July 5, 1947 Larry Doby became the second African-American player in major league baseball's modern era. As you know, 11 Weeks earlier on April 15th, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and became a symbol for baseball, civil rights, and all that could be good in America. He had to overcome hardship, bigotry, death threats, epithets, and narrow-mindedness at every turn. Of course, Larry Doby had to endure all the same kinds of mean-spirited trials and tribulations along the way. So why does Jackie Robinson get the annual day, the universal number retirement, and national canonization while Larry Doby remains a curious footnote, known by only the staunchest of baseball fans and civil rights activists? I wish there was some deep philosophical and profound reason that required deep analysis. Alas, it is as simple as Jackie was first and Larry was second. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray invented the phone at the same time but Bell got to the patent office first, which is why they had to break up Ma Bell and not Papa Graham. I am not saying this is fair, it's just the way it is. And lord knows I am certainly not the first person to point any of this out, but as a second born child, I know it all too well.
By all accounts, Larry Doby was a hell of a ballplayer. He is rightfully in the hall of fame - though it certainly took a while - for both his play and his status in the history of the game. I like to think that one of these years, instead of overemphasizing and fetishizing Jackie Robinson and his #42 and all that stuff, that maybe they could have a Larry Doby Day in July when all the players in MLB wear #14 and we can hear the story of how this man integrated an entire league and followed in the footsteps of greatness - but was also most certainly great himself. Hell, I know it's a long way off, but 2023 will be his 100th birthday and that would be as good a time as any to give him some long overdue recognition.
Not shown: Pete Conrad, Gherman Titov, Walther Müller, Karl Dönitz, Tenzing Norgay, Alexander Mackenzie, John Adams, James Garfield, Yale, Beta, Helium, Pennsylvania, Pinocchio, The right to bear arms, The 1969 Chiefs, Michael Wilding, Anne Boleyn, Christiane Martel, Kelly Wiglesworth, Bobby Leach, Tony Roventini, John Landy, Milorad Cavic, Peter Norman, Steffi Graf, and Ty Cobb.