But just a few months later, another man would come from the Negro Leagues to be the next African-American star in MLB: outfielder Larry Doby.
In fact, Doby would become the first Black player in the American League, when the Cleveland Indians signed him in 1947.
Before reaching the bigs, at 23 years old, he was already a star in the Negro Leagues.
He was the star of the 1946 Negro League champions, the Newark Eagles.
He was an All-Star that year, and hit .341 while finishing only one home run behind the legendary Josh Gibson, the league leader.
He spent a couple of years serving in World War II, so it’s hard not to wonder what his MLB numbers would have looked like without segregation and the war hiatus.
He managed to play 1,533 games in MLB, until he was 35.
An Impressive Hitter With Many Accomplishments
He hit .283/.386/.490 with 253 home runs, 960 runs, 970 RBI, and 47 stolen bases.
Doby was a comfortably above-average hitter, with a 137 wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus).
The wRC+ (a stat that compiles offensive performance and adjusts it to external factors, such as different eras and ballparks) associated to an average offensive player is 100.
Just in his second season in the big leagues, Doby would be crowned an MLB World Series champion with the Indians.
That was actually the last championship of the franchise, now called the Cleveland Guardians.
Doby’s career achievements include one Negro League All-Star Game appearance (1946), seven MLB All-Star Games (1949–1955), one Negro World Series (1946), one MLB World Series (1948), two American League home run crowns (1952, 1954) and one RBI crown (1954).
Cleveland retired his No. 14, a well-deserved honor.
Looking back on the life & career of Larry Doby.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 2, 2022
Just like Robinson, Doby had to endure some rough times as a black player playing in a racist league and society.
He Paved The Way For Others And Was A Symbol Of Integration
He helped pave the way for hundreds of Black players that came after him: Monte Irvin, Satchel Paige, Hank Thompson, Roy Campanella, Willard Brown, Dan Bankhead, Minnie Minoso, Don Newcombe, and many more.
Eventually, Doby became the second Black manager in MLB and, in 1998, a Hall of Famer through the Veterans’ Committee.
Besides the Eagles and the Indians, Doby played for the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and the Chunichi Dragons of the Nippon Professional League, in the sixties.
Robinson was a true icon, but there is no question Doby deserves more recognition.
Like Robinson, he didn’t come to MLB just to be an average player: he was really, really good.
As proof of his talent, Doby accumulated 51.1 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, whereas Robinson had 57.2: he was not far off the great Jackie.
As a player, Doby was the complete package: he could hit for a high average, although he wasn’t truly a .300 player, but his ability to take walks granted him a really high OBP.
He had impressive power and was a good defensive outfielder.
Doby is actually a very respected figure among players of his time.
Indians Larry Doby runs away from adoring fans, 1949 pic.twitter.com/6DzESiGSL6
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) January 15, 2022
It’s time fans know more about him and what he meant (and means) for baseball, too.