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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Doby is first African-American to play in AL
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
July 5, 1947
Nervous and a little frightened, 22-year-old Larry Doby is the first black player to sign a contract with an American League team. Around high noon in Chicago, he signs with Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians.
"Just remember," Veeck tells him, "that they play with a little white ball and a stick of wood up here, just like they did in your league."
Doby, playing mostly second base, was purchased two days ago from the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, where he led the circuit with a .416 average, 14 homers and 16 doubles.
Just hours after signing, the left-handed hitting Doby gets his chance in the majors, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning. Despite being struck out by Earl Harriet in Cleveland's 6-5 loss to the White Sox, the fans in Chicago give him a loud ovation on his way back to the dugout.
Doby will hit just .156 in 32 at-bats this season, but will go on to have a productive 13-year career in the American League. He will retire in 1959 with a lifetime average of .283 and 253 homers, twice leading the league in dingers.
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