CLEVELAND (AP) — Jim “Mudcat” Grant says Hall of Famer Larry Doby, his first roommate with the Cleveland Indians, deserves the same recognition as Jackie Robinson.
Grant proudly participated in ceremonies Friday as the Indians commemorated the 65th anniversary of Doby breaking the AL’s color barrier by renaming a street in his honor.
“Larry did a lot more than people realize,” Grant said. “There’s no denying either man’s place in history. For those who say Jackie sometimes gets a tad too much recognition, I say Larry does not get nearly enough.”
Doby made his debut for Cleveland on July 5, 1947. Robinson’s historic first game came three months earlier, on April 15 for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“Larry went through everything Jackie did, was called the same names, treated the same way,” said Grant, 76, who joined the Indians in 1958 as Doby was nearing the end of his career. After 6½ years in Cleveland, Grant was traded to Minnesota and became a 20-game winner in 1965. He played for seven teams overall through 1971.
“Larry had to display the same patience and avoid showing any anger,” Grant said. “He taught me how to play the game, but also to deal with issues still in place. In some cities then, a black man still could not sit in certain restaurants, drink from certain water fountains, stay in certain hotels.
“Larry said a ballplayer could not afford to have anger in those situations, but to have discipline and resolve,” Grant said. “Then he would say, ‘When you go on that field you had better win.’ Winning would take care of many problems.”
Doby helped the Indians win their last World Series title in 1948. The six-time All-Star outfielder hit .283 with 253 homers and was inducted in Cooperstown in 1998. He died in 2003 at age 79.
Indians manager Manny Acta said Doby and Frank Robinson, who became baseball’s first black manager for the Indians in 1975, deserve respect.
“Those guys paved the way for us,” said Acta, whose first job in the majors was as third base coach when Robinson managed the Montreal Expos in 2002. “Larry Doby was a big part of our franchise in Cleveland and so was Frank.”
Grant, along with Larry Doby Jr., and Doby’s two daughters were scheduled to be part of postgame ceremonies when the Indians were to unveil street signs on Larry Doby Way — formerly known as Eagle Ave. — which runs adjacent to Progressive Field after the game.
“This is just a small way that we should remember a fine man,” Grant said. “Larry brought us all together through baseball.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.