In 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, Bill Veeck signed Larry Doby (1923-2003) to the Cleveland Indians. We see interviews with Doby himself, family members, ... See full summary »
In 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, Bill Veeck signed Larry Doby (1923-2003) to the Cleveland Indians. We see interviews with Doby himself, family members, teammates, and baseball historians. The film traces Doby's career from high-school athletics in Paterson, N.J. and being in the Navy during World War II, to playing in the Negro Leagues, breaking into the majors, winning a World Series and playing on All-Star teams, mentoring younger players, becoming a coach and manager, and being elected to the Hall of Fame. The film argues that Doby, Robinson, Veeck, and Branch Rickey's contributions were not just to baseball, but to U.S. history. Written by
For those of you who are not baseball fans, Pride Against Prejudice: The Larry Doby Story is about the second black ballplayer in the modern major leagues and the first to integrate the American League. Four months after Jackie Robinson started the 1947 season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larry Doby was purchased by Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians from the Negro Leagues, Newark Eagles and he joined the Indians in Chicago well into the 1947 season.
Robinson as is known to baseball fans was rookie of the year in the National League and he led the Dodgers to their first pennant since 1941 though they lost as the perennially did, the World Series to the New York Yankees. Doby had a mediocre rookie season, but owner Bill Veeck never gave up on him. He switched Doby from the infield to the outfield and in 1948 he became a standout center-fielder as the Indians became World Champions in 1948.
Robinson and Doby were both good family men, loving husbands and fathers. Jackie was as we all know an eloquent spokesman for civil rights off the field as well. Doby was a shy and retiring type, didn't particularly feel comfortable in interviews, he much preferred to just rise and fall on his baseball record.
Doby and Bill Veeck were close the rest of their lives, the way Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson were. In his memoirs Veeck said that in retrospect and from strictly Doby's point of view he might not have been the best choice to have endured what he did. Doby may have been quiet, but he was also proud, the racial insults and taunts he received wounded him deeply and he kept it inside. It might have affected his play. Of course a .283 batting average and 253 lifetime home-runs were enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. Doby also led the American League in home-runs twice during his career spent mostly with the Cleveland Indians.
The documentary mentions in passing how it was Hall of Fame coach Tris Speaker who may have been the greatest defensive center-fielder ever, helped to convert Doby from a mediocre infielder to a superlative center-fielder. What it doesn't mention is that back in his youth Speaker, from Hubbard Texas, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. I wish producer Bud Greenspan had mentioned that, it's proof positive that as human beings we can all grow and change.
Among other highlights of Doby's career was in the fourth game of the 1948 World Series against the Boston Braves where he became the first black man to hit a home-run in the World Series. It was off Braves ace Johnny Sain and it proved to be the winning run in a 2 to 1 game. Afterwards the clubhouse picture of Cleveland Indian pitcher Steve Gromek hugging Doby went around the world. Integration in baseball really arrived.
Friends and family of Larry Doby contributed their thoughts and reminiscences of Doby and teammates like Bob Feller, Al Rosen, Ralph Kiner and Jim 'Mudcat' Grant were interviewed as well.
Pride Against Prejudice: The Larry Doby Story is a fine sports documentary about a great ballplayer and a fine man who I remember as a player in my youth. Ballplayers today in this age of million dollar contracts and steroids would do well to use a man of the class and pride of Larry Doby as a role model.
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