By Josh Staph
Although MLB pioneer Larry Doby was a man of few words, his actions and achievements spoke volumes. In 1947, Larry became the first African American to play in the American League. But before his groundbreaking career could take off, World War II intensified, and Larry enlisted in the Navy. He was shipped out to Mogmog, an island in the South Pacific, where he was assigned to a segregated unit that served a level below white soldiers, many of whom he had captained on the diamond in high school and college.
Undeterred by this racial discrimination, Larry made it his mission to maintain his baseball skills while stationed on the island. To stay in shape, he worked out with Mickey Vernon, a white Major Leaguer. When their daily assignments were complete, Larry and Mickey grabbed their gloves, bat and a ball, found an open patch of land and worked on their game.
When Larry came home, he rejoined the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League. Shortly thereafter, he caught the attention of Cleveland Indians boss Bill Veeck, who invited him to join the club. Belting more than 250 home runs, Doby led the Tribe to two pennants during the Yankee-dominated baseball era. Although he was one of the best all-around players in the game, Larry was known mostly for his clutch hitting.