06/19/2003 4:24 PM ET
Comments about and from Larry Doby
"Most of the world knew Larry Doby as a Hall of Fame baseball player, but to those fortunate to know him personally, he was even more than that - he was a great man. Larry treated everyone with respect, and he was respected by everyone. He handled the challenges of being the American League's first African-American player with grace and dignity. The Hall of Fame has lost one of Baseball's greatest ambassadors."
-- Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
"He was a nice guy and he was a good player for me. I was there when he came up as a player. He reported to the Indians in Chicago for a doubleheader. In his first game he played first base and then became a very good outfielder. He fit in really well with the Indians. We became good friends in Chicago. He was also close to Al Rosen and really close to Joe Gordon. Since I spoke Spanish, I used to read him his mail that came in from the general manager of one of the winter league teams in the islands that wanted him to play there. It's a sad day today."
-- Al Lopez, Doby's teammate in 1947 and manager from 1951-55 and in 1957
"He was a great American, he served the country in World War II, and he was a great ballplayer. He was kind of like Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, because he was the second African-American player in the majors behind Jackie Robinson. He was just as good of a ballplayer, an exciting player, and a very good teammate. He helped us win the World Series in 1948. He was a great ballplayer, a great American and an excellent teammate."
-- Hall of Famer Bob Feller, Doby's teammate from 1947-55
"He could carry a team for a week when he got hot."
-- Teammate Bob Kennedy
"You have to be some kind of special person to go through what Larry and Jackie Robinson went through. They both are. I'm not too sure there's a player in the game today that could handle it."
-- Former manager Gene Mauch, in 1998, when Larry Doby was elected to the Hall of Fame
"Being a lifetime Americn Leaguer coming up, I was around him a lot. I was able to see him quite often when I played and always enjoyed talking to him. Even when he moved into the Commisioner's Office, we kept in touch. It seems like he always was looking out for the up-and-coming African-American player."
--Mets bench coach Don Baylor, a longtime star in the American League
"He's been sick for a while. I saw him at the Hall of Fame last year. He wasn't feeling too good. He was a great man. He was one of the guys who opened things up for us. I've known him for years. He opened the doors for a lot of people, Latins, blacks and a lot of people."
--Former Reds star Tony Perez, a Hall of Famer and a special assistant to the Marlins
"He will be well-remembered in Chicago. When Chicago played Cleveland, he'd
always come to the clubhouse and say hello to the guys a lot. When I was with the White Sox, he was always coming through the clubhouse, saying hi to everyone. Larry reminded me of Ernie Banks, the way he was kind to everyone, and said hi to everyone. He made it easier for everyone (minorities) to come up. They could look up to a Hall of Famer."
--Marlins coach Ozzie Guillen
"I had seen him play as a kid. He was a good player. Probably underrated. He didn't get the recognition that Jackie Robinson got. But he was a good player. A good power hitter. I think he probably wasn't as extroverted as some of the other guys. He was just a quiet, nice guy, who didn't seek the publicity or was afforded the publicity of, say, Jackie Robinson or Monte Irvin, guys who were up in New York, the big city."
--Marlins manager Jack McKeon
"He was a class act. I thought a great deal of him. Larry doesn't get as much recognition as Jackie Robinson, but they were both very important people."
--Yankees manager Joe Torre
"I could never relate to what he went through. I wish I could have had an opportunity to talk to him and hear some of his stories."
--Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter
"What he meant to this game can never be forgotten. His contributions are sometimes underappreciated."
--Tigers outfielder Dmitri Young
"Larry Doby was a legend, a Hall of Famer. He was an outstanding man, a good married man. Boy, could he play baseball."
--Former Negro League star Buck O'Neil
"Larry endured many of the same indignities and had the same courage in the American League that Jackie (Robinson) demonstrated in the National League. Although Larry, having been second is often not acknowledged in the same breath as Jackie, it is clear that the breaking of the color barrier in 1947 in both the American and National Leagues, as Commissioner Selig has often said, was the most significant event in the history of Major League Baseball."
--MLB President/CEO Robert DuPuy
"He was a nice guy, and he was a good player for me. I was there when he came up as a player. He reported to the Indians in Chicago for a doubleheader. In his first game he played first base and then became a very good outfielder. He fit in really well with the Indians."
--Former Indians manager Al Lopez
"His style was different. He was a quiet activist. He was more modest in his playing skills, but he was just as great as Jackie was and, in some respects, even better. Few people realized that until recently, and that's why he went into the Hall of Fame in 1998."
--Larry Lester, author and Negro League historian
"I think his role has been underplayed and undervalued, and then he came along as the second black manager as well. So he was really pioneering in both these areas -- as a player and as a manager."
--James Riley, author and Negro League historian
"I can't imagine what it would be like to be in that situation. Doby bears a lot of similarities to Robinson in that he's somebody who's a multi-talented athlete."
--Robert Ruck, professor at Pitt and an expert on Negro League history
"He was a good ballplayer -- one of the best who ever lived. I know, because I pitched against him."
--Negro League pitcher Wilmer Fields
"Larry Doby taught me how to innovate on a pitch inside. That was many, many
years ago. He demonstrated on a pitch way inside. I use it now, you take your front arm, and just pull straight down on an inside pitch. That will get the club head out on an inside pitch, especially a ball that is going to jam you. You have a better chance of hitting something on the barrel of the bat. This was the late 1960s or early 1970s. It's something that I remember to this day."
--Marlins hitting coach Bill Robinson
"I knew being accepted was going to be hard, but I knew I was involved in a situation that was going to bring opportunities to other blacks."
-- Larry Doby, on being the first African American to play in the American League in 1947.