Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Larry Doby, November 15, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - Doby's childhood / segregation

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Partial Transcript: I wonder if you might tell me a little about your background, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Doby talks about his youth in South Carolina and his high school years in New Jersey. He also discusses segregation in his school system, though he grew up with whites in his neighborhood.

Keywords: Childhood; New Jersey; South Carolina; Youth

Subjects: Racism; Segregation; Segregation in education

00:06:18 - Early involvement in sports

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Partial Transcript: You moved on up to New Jersey and you mentioned that you became very involved with sports.

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses growing up with playing sports, including his involvement as team captain in several sports. He states that he didn't think of himself or his teammates as being black or white, but as just being athletes.

Keywords: Athletics; Discipline; Football; High school athletics; New Jersey; Patterson (N.J.); Sports

Subjects: African American athletes; Racism; Segregation; Segregation in education

00:11:32 - College and the draft

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Partial Transcript: From high school you went on to spend a semester at Long Island University and then went down to Virginia Union.

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses his short college athletic career before being drafted. He goes on to discuss segregation and athletics in the military.

Keywords: Basketball; Drafts; Military athletics; Military segregation; Newark (N.J); World War II draft

Subjects: African American baseball players; African Americans--Segregation; Baseball players; Segregation; United States. Navy.; World War, 1939-1945

00:19:42 - Playing for the Negro Leagues / Negro League salaries

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Partial Transcript: How did, how did you, again, you were released from the navy in January of '46.

Segment Synopsis: Doby talks about his playing baseball when he finished high school and again when he was released from the military. He also talks about his pay in the Negro Leagues.

Keywords: Buses; Competition; Hotels

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Minor league baseball.; Negro leagues.; United States. Navy.; World War, 1939-1945

00:24:15 - Abe and Effa Manley / entering the Major Leagues

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Partial Transcript: Well, we were talking about your experiences in Negro baseball. Tell me a little about the Manleys...

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses his relationship with Abe and Effa Manley, the owners of the Newark Eagles. He goes on to discuss his entering the Major Leagues.

Keywords: 1947; Relationships

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Baseball team owners; Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro leagues.; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team)

00:30:06 - Chuck Dressen and barnstorming /Jackie Robinson

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Partial Transcript: In the winter of 1946, you went barnstorming with Charlie Dressen to Cuba.

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses forming teams to play the Major League teams during the off-season. He goes on to talk about Jackie Robinson's signing to the Dodgers and his relationship with Robinson.

Keywords: Barnstorming; Chuck Dressen; Exhibition games; Spring training

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Cuba.; DiMaggio, Joe, 1914-1999; Dressen, Charlie; Major League Baseball (Organization); Paige, Satchel, 1906-1982; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

00:34:15 - Being sold to the Cleveland Indians

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Partial Transcript: Before you were signed by the Indians, uh, or sold, actually, did you know the Dodgers were interested in you?

Segment Synopsis: Doby recalls being sold to the Cleveland Indians by the Newark Eagles. He talks about how he was thinking more about leaving his friends than he was about going to the Major Leagues.

Keywords: Roy "Campy" Campanella

Subjects: Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball Team); Campanella, Roy, 1921-1993.; Cleveland Indians (Baseball Team); Major League Baseball (Organization); Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team)

00:40:38 - Doby's family

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Partial Transcript: Obviously your wife and, and mother were real excited about this.

Segment Synopsis: Doby talks about how leaving to play with his team affected his relationship with his wife. He goes on to talk more about his family.

Keywords: Culture; Family life; Helyn Doby; Interracial relations; Religion

Subjects: African American baseball players; Cleveland Indians (Baseball Team); Major League Baseball (Organization)

00:47:01 - First day in the Major Leagues

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back to that first day in Comiskey Park.

Segment Synopsis: Doby recalls his first day at Comiskey Park and the reaction that other players had to his presence. He recalls not worrying about racism, but rather that he wasn't playing that first season.

Keywords: Comiskey Park (Chicago, Ill.); Ignorance; Joe Gordon; Prejudice

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Major League Baseball (Organization); Racism

00:52:02 - Meeting Bill Veeck / segregation in baseball

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Partial Transcript: Tell, tell me, tell about Bill Veeck, what did he say to you...

Segment Synopsis: Doby recalls meeting Bill Veeck, the owner of the Cleveland Indians. Doby goes on to talk about segregation in baseball.

Keywords: Courtesy; Politeness; Respect

Subjects: African American baseball players; African Americans--Segregation; American League (Major League Baseball); National League (Major League Baseball); Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972; Veeck, Bill

01:00:26 - Doby's belief in himself

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Partial Transcript: You didn't hit very well, you pinch hit, I think your first game you went one for four.

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses his initial time in the Major Leagues, and his belief in himself and his abilities. He briefly discusses moving to playing second base.

Keywords: Batting averages; Second base; Second basemen; Skills; Weaknesses

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Major League Baseball (Organization)

01:05:16 - The off-season / playing basketball

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Partial Transcript: What did you do over that winter? You read, you read...

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses what he did during his first offseason in the Major Leagues, as well as his love of both baseball and basketball. He talks about how he played basketball in the baseball off-season until 1948.

Keywords: Books; Chuck Conners

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Basketball; DiMaggio, Joe, 1914-1999; Outfielders (Baseball)

01:08:50 - Salaries in the 1940s

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Partial Transcript: Going back a little bit, tell me what, you were making $5,000 when you first played with the Indians...

Segment Synopsis: Doby talks about pay in the 1940s, and the difference in the value of a dollar at that time and when the interview was conducted.

Keywords: Dollars; Money; Payment; Salaries; Work pay

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players--Salaries, etc.--United States

01:11:34 - The 1948 season and the pennant

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Partial Transcript: Let's turn to the 1948 season.

Segment Synopsis: Doby talks about his home run over the centerfield fence in Washington, his playing for the pennant in Boston and his going on to the World Series.

Keywords: Baseball games; Home runs; World Series; World Series (1948)

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Boston Braves (Baseball Team); Cleveland Indians (Baseball Team); Negro leagues.

01:15:48 - The turning point of Doby's career / keeping in touch with Jackie Robinson

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Partial Transcript: The first half of the year, you really started off slowly.

Segment Synopsis: Doby talks about the turning point of his career, when he might have been sent to the Minor Leagues. He also talks about his keeping in touch with Jackie Robinson and racism in baseball.

Keywords: 1948; Montreal Royals

Subjects: African American baseball players; American League (Major League Baseball); Major League Baseball (Organization); Minor league baseball.; National League (Major League Baseball); Racism; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

01:21:53 - Racism in baseball

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Partial Transcript: You did go through, obviously, a lot of the same things that Jackie Robinson went through.

Segment Synopsis: Doby further discusses racism in Major League baseball when he and Jackie Robinson began playing. He goes on to discuss how his positive attitude helped him deal with the racism.

Keywords: Attitudes; Injustice; Racial prejudice; Racial slurs; Slurs

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball; Major League Baseball (Organization); Racism; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972; Veeck, Bill

01:27:44 - Lack of hotel accommodations for black players

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Partial Transcript: You also in spring training of '48, the Santa Rita Hotel, I think, refused to take you...

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses a number of hotels that would not allow African American players to stay there. He tells how the players stayed with local families rather than at the hotel with the rest of the team.

Keywords: Hotel accommodations; Hotels; Quota system; Racism; Spring training

Subjects: African American baseball players; African Americans--Segregation; Greenberg, Hank; Paige, Satchel, 1906-1982

01:30:19 - Bob Feller and racist comments about Doby

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Partial Transcript: Some of the ballplayers you played with in 1948, because that's really a fantastic year...

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses his relationship with Bob Feller and other members of the Cleveland Indians during 1948. He talks about the ignorance and the racism he encountered while on the team.

Keywords: 1947; 1948; Ignorance; Racism; Racist comments

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Cleveland Indians (Baseball Team); Feller, Bob, 1918-2010; Major League Baseball (Organization)

01:34:49 - Thoughts on the 1948 Cleveland Indians

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Partial Transcript: How about Dale Mitchell?

Segment Synopsis: Doby further discusses other members of the 1948 Cleveland Indians team, sharing his thoughts on the players. He discusses the continuing relationship that he has had with some of them.

Keywords: Allie Clark; Bob Kennedy; Bob Lemon; Dale Mitchell; Don Black; Eddie Robinson; Hal Peck; Hank Edwards; Ken Keltner; Prejudice; Ray Murray; Russ Christopher; Sam Zoldak; Steve Gromeck; Thurman Tucker

Subjects: African American baseball players; Bearden, Gene, 1920-2004; Hegan, Jim; Lemon, Robert; Paige, Satchel, 1906-1982; Racism; Tipton, Jeff

01:41:05 - Satchel Paige / coaches Doby worked with

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Partial Transcript: And uh, we really haven't talked to much about Satchel Paige joining the team.

Segment Synopsis: Doby talks about his relationship with Satchel Paige, both before he started in the Major League and afterwards. He moves into speaking about different coaches who he worked with.

Keywords: Bill McKechnie; Curfews; Muddy Ruel; Promotions; Racial segregation; Slavery; Southern States; Tris Speaker

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball coaches; Cleveland Indians (Baseball Team); Greenberg, Hank; Paige, Satchel, 1906-1982; Pitchers (Baseball); Ruel, Herold Dominic, 1896-1963.; Veeck, Bill

01:47:43 - Bill Veeck, promotions and motivation

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Partial Transcript: What, what, what did you think of some of Bill Veeck's promotions?

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses promotions in Major League baseball, motivation and African American fans. He also touches on the unspoken quota system in Major League baseball.

Keywords: African American fans; Fans; Motivation; Promotion; Quota system

Subjects: African American baseball players; Campanella, Roy, 1921-1993.; Greenberg, Hank; Major League Baseball (Organization); Veeck, Bill

01:53:08 - Luke Easter's positive attitude / Jackie Robinson's personality

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Partial Transcript: At lunchtime we talked a little bit about Luke Easter, and you'd know him being with the Homestead Grays...

Segment Synopsis: Doby discusses Luke Easter and the positive attitude that he displayed on the ball field. He also talks about his attitude in comparison with Jackie Robinson.

Keywords: Attitudes; Injustices; Luke Easter; Racial prejudice; Racism; Tokenism

Subjects: African American baseball players; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972; Veeck, Bill; Washington Homestead Grays (Baseball Team)

01:58:16 - Doby's abilities and his time period

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Partial Transcript: There was a statement that Bill Veeck made in his book "Veeck as in Wreck"...

Segment Synopsis: Doby expounds upon Bill Veeck's statement that he (Doby) would have been a better player if he'd come along later than Jackie Robinson instead of alongside him.

Keywords: Athleticism; Consistency; Racism; Sense of humor

Subjects: African American baseball players; Doby, Larry; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972; Veeck, Bill

02:00:56 - Final comments

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Partial Transcript: Any stories or anecdotes or anything we're covered in this interview...

Segment Synopsis: Doby relays an anecdote regarding other baseball players and a poker game. Doby also gives his final comments on Happy Chandler. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Harry Simpson; Luke Easter; Poker; Poker games; Sam Jones; anecdotes; sense of humor

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991