On Opening Day, New Jersey Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Honor Baseball Legend, Civil Rights Pioneer Larry Doby with Congressional Gold Medal

On Opening Day, New Jersey Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Honor Baseball Legend, Civil Rights Pioneer Larry Doby with Congressional Gold Medal

Doby was first African-American to play in American League, effectively integrating all of professional baseball

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Jersey U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) today joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in introducing legislation to honor Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League, with the Congressional Gold Medal for his career and contributions to the American civil rights movement. In joining the American League, Doby effectively integrated all of professional baseball.

“As the first player to integrate the American League, Larry Doby played an instrumental role in our country’s civil rights movement,” Senator Booker said. “His perseverance through adversity inspired a generation and made a lasting impact on American history. And long after his baseball career was over, he continued to serve his community in New Jersey. The Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting recognition for an individual who helped change our national pastime and our country for the better.”

“It is only fitting that the Pride of Paterson, N.J., and a man who helped forever change America's pastime and shape the course of our nation's civil rights be awarded the highest civilian honor Congress has to offer,” Senator Menendez said.  “Larry Doby’s tenacity and spirit by which he overcame immense adversity have inspired generations and left an indelible mark on our nation’s history.  On behalf of all of the people of New Jersey and every American, it is a privilege to honor Larry Doby’s life and legacy.”

"When you grow up in Paterson, New Jersey, you can’t escape the legend of Larry Doby. I’m not just talking about on the field, but civil rights pioneer, public servant, and community devotee," Rep. Pascrell said. "We should all look to the legacy of leadership that Larry left behind. The progress Larry fought for did not come easy, and the least we as the Congress can do is to bestow this honor recognizing Larry Doby as a truly great American."

“I had the privilege of knowing Larry Doby, and I can say with conviction that there is no one more deserving of this honor,” Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, said. “Larry was a pioneer on-and-off the field, bravely changing the landscape of professional sports, and he embodied what it meant to be a community-minded individual. On behalf of the entire Nets organization, I wholeheartedly support awarding Larry with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Lawrence Eugene “Larry” Doby moved to Paterson, New Jersey as a teenager and became a standout athlete at Paterson Eastside High School. After attending Long Island University on a basketball scholarship and enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he went on to play baseball in the Negro National League for the Newark Eagles.

In July 1947 he joined the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first African-American to play in the American League. During his 13-year career in the American League, Doby tallied 1,533 games, batting .283, with 253 home runs and 970 runs batted in. He played in two World Series and was the first African-American player to hit a home run in a World Series game.

Following his playing career, Doby managed the Chicago White Sox and later served as the Director of Community Relations for the New Jersey Nets in the NBA. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.


Press Contact