Thursday, June 19, 2003

Larry Doby
He told me about the moment the manager, Lou Boudreau, who didn't want him, introduced him to the players who wanted him even less. He had just joined the club:

"I walked down that line stuck out my hand and very few hands came back in return. Most of the ones that did were cold-fish handshakes, along with a look that said, 'You don't belong here.'

"I grew up in a mixed neighborhood in Paterson. I ate in my classmates' homes and they ate in mine. I was the only black on the football team, and when we were invited to play segregated high school bowl games in Florida, the team voted to stay home rather than play without me.

"Now, I couldn't believe how this was. I put on my uniform and I went out on the field to warm up, but nobody wanted to warm up with me. I had never been so alone in my life. I stood there alone in front of the dugout for five minutes. Then Joe Gordon, the second baseman who would become my friend, came up to me and asked, 'Hey, rookie, you gonna just stand there or do you want to throw a little?'

"I will never forget that man."

The next day, Boudreau told him he wanted him to start at first base. He had no first baseman's glove. Eddie Robinson, the regular first baseman, refused to lend him his. The team's traveling secretary had to walk over to other team's dugout to borrow one. A week or so later, Boudreau sent him up to pinch-hit for a guy who was already at bat with an 0-2 count.

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