Larry Doby, Cleveland Indians legend and civil rights pioneer, will have his statue revealed outside Progressive Field's Right Field Gate on Saturday, with a dedication ceremony taking place at 4:45 p.m EST, the Indians announced on Tuesday.
On top of being one of the instrumental members of the 1948 championship team (the last time the Indians won a World Series, if you really needed that reminder), Doby was also the first African-American player to play in the American League. Doby played for the Tribe in 10 of his 12 seasons as a member of the MLB after coming over from the Negro Leagues prior to the 1947 season.
It seems almost silly to think about now, seeing how great of a player and historic influence Doby was, but there was a point where player/manager Lou Boudreau was not sure completely sold on the young outfielder. Coincidentally (or not), I recently started reading a book called "A Summer to Remember: Bill Veeck, Lou Boudreau, Bob Feller, and the 1948 Cleveland Indians" by Lew Freedman which quotes Boudreau as saying the following on Doby:
I'll keep Doby only if I feel sure he can play regularly. Right now I don't think he can. He's a good ball player, but he needs experience. If Doby continues the way he has been going I don't see how I can let him go. But he must play regularly. I won't have him sitting on the bench all year like he did last.
To be fair, Doby did not look good in his first professional season having batted a measly .156/.182/.188 in 29 games. Following that disappointing 1947 season, however, Doby would settle into a career-long groove of superb hitting and defense and he currently sits as the Tribe's 6th most valuable batter in team history with 45.0 fWAR.
Doby's statue will join his teammate Bob Feller and '90s star Jim Thome outside Progressive Field, as it was initially announced by Indians President Mark Shapiro last August.
The Hall of Famer did miss out on the Indians "Franchise Four" as voted on by fans, but they screwed it so badly that his omission is not that big of a surprise.