CLEVELAND – Jackie Robinson’s 42 isn’t the only number with special meaning to the Cleveland Indians.
Less than three months after Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larry Doby made his debut for the Indians, becoming the A.L.’s first black player.
Doby played 10 seasons for Cleveland, and the Hall of Famer’s No. 14 was retired by the team on July 3, 1994 – 47 years after he was signed by owner Bill Veeck.
Now that baseball has saluted Robinson’s 60th anniversary, the Indians have asked Major League Baseball for permission to have their players wear Doby’s No. 14 on July 5 in Detroit to commemorate the six decades since he bravely battled prejudice.
Team spokesman Bart Swain said while the club awaits word from MLB, it is planning to honor Doby during the team’s Hall of Fame weekend at Jacobs Field when the New York Yankees are in town Aug. 10-12.
Unlike Robinson, who played in the Dodgers’ minor league organization, Doby was signed by the Indians and put in their lineup two days later. In 1950, he led the A.L. with 32 home runs and 126 RBIs.