Card of the Moment #29
June 10th, 2010 by slangon

So the Mets were rained out last night. They’ve got a day/night double header today with Padres. I’m a little annoyed by that just because, although I do have radio at work that I can listen to game on, I never seem to be able to listen to the game from start to finish. It’s especially annoying that Johan is pitching today, so I really wanted to listen to or watch the game. Oh well. Damn you, Mother Nature. On a separate note, I love that the Padres are rocking the Swinging Friar sleeve patches. Now if they’d only bring back the old McDonalds uniforms.

1958 Topps #424 Larry Doby

As you probably recollect, this was one of the cards that Chris from Project ’62 generously traded me for a pile of custom cards. I gotta say, I was not expecting a card this nice, but I sort of like that method of trading. You know, where someone says I’ll send you something cool, but they don’t tell you what it is. To me, it adds that excitement of the unknown that you get from busting a pack.

But on to this Larry Doby card.

I’ve mentioned in the past about how when I was collecting cards the first time around, when I was between about 8 and 11 years old, I used to go to this card shop when they had boxes of vintage commons. Some of the very first of those vintage cards that I ever bought were from the ’58 set. I think they were Irv Noren and Lou Skizas. Because of that, although the ’58 set isn’t necessarily my favorite of the 50’s sets, it does hold a special place in my heart. To me it looks like what I feel a vintage card should look like.

And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a Hall of Famer. Also, I know that Chief Wahoo isn’t necessarily politically correct, but I can’t help but like him. He just looks like a crazy man.

As I mentioned in the post about the trade that got me this card, I was psyched that Larry was from New Jersey. I was born and raised in the Garden State and am pretty fascinated by it’s history and famous people who grew up here. Although a bunch of ball players have called Jersey home, only 5 members of the Hall of Fame grew up here.

Another link that Larry has to New Jersey is that fact that before he signed with the Indians in 1947, he played for the Negro National League Newark Eagles from 1942-1946, excluding ’44 and ’45 when he served in the Navy. When he rejoined the team in 1946, he played alongside fellow future Hall of Famer Monte Irvin and helped the Eagles win the Negro League World Series.

Of course, Larry’s real claim to fame is being the man who broke the color barrier in the American League. He was signed to the Cleveland Indians on July 2, 1947 by Bill Veeck, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Dodgers. He didn’t have the same initial impact that Robinson had, going 5 for 32 in 29 games in his rookie year. He did, however play and important role in Clevelands 1948 World Series run, batting .301 with 14 homers and 66 RBI. In the World Series that year, he hit .318 and became the first black player to hit a home run in World Series history.

On a sort of sad side note, although Doby is known for breaking the color barrier in the American League, he’s always played second fiddle to Jackie Robinson. At the time that Major League Baseball retired Robinsons number in 1997, Sports Illustrated published an editorial piece pointing out that Larry went through the same problems that Jackie did, without the same media attention and support. According to his Wikipedia page, the writers of The Great American Baseball Card Book included a picture of Doby’s baseball card and said that being the second black ballplayer was, in the minds of the press, akin to being “the second man to invent the telephone.”

After his playing career, Doby became a coach for the Expos and the Indians and in mid-1978 the manager of the Chicago White Sox. Coincidentally, he was the 2nd black manager in the Majors, behind Frank Robinson.

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