Saturday, August 11, 2007
(posted by OMDQ)
Back in April, players and teams throughout Major League Baseball wore number 42 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jack Robinson's debut as the first black player since the 1880s. There were ceremonies around baseball to honor Robinson, including one before the Dodgers game against San Diego that featured Robinson's widow, Rachel, and delayed the start of the game for half an hour.
At the time, I noted the inconsistent nature with which baseball was celebrating this obviously worthy milestone. Robinson deserved all the praise he received, and it is truly tragic that he was not around to enjoy it, but the lack of respect shown to Larry Doby was criminal. Doby, the second black player since 1884 and the first in American League history, escaped mention for much of the night, with only Hall of Famer Frank Robinson finally noting his contributions to the game in the sixth inning of the aforementioned Dodgers game, nearly three hours after the ESPN broadcast began.
Tonight, August 10, the Cleveland Indians honored Doby, with every player wearing his number 14 during the game against the New York Yankees. Why August 10? It wasn't to commemorate his debut (July 5), his birth (December 13), or even his death (June 18). No, the team scheduled this honor to coincide with its Hall of Fame/Heritage Weekend, which continues through this Sunday.
Forgive me for feeling put out, but this is crap. Sure, you can argue that the Indians did well to remember Doby at all this season, especially when ESPN and the rest of the national media don't seem to care about his impact in the least. But the man deserved his own day, his own weekend. If anything, the team's Hall of Fame Weekend should have been scheduled around Doby - planning festivities for Doby (muted festivities, at that - note that the game was not nationally televised, no ceremonies held up the start time, and it barely made it into the game recap) around the likes of Andre Thornton, Charles Nagy, Jim Bagby Sr. and Mike Garcia is beyond ridiculous - it's disrespectful to the man's memory. No disrespect intended toward any of those four men, who were all fine players in their own right, but they aren't in Larry Doby's class.
Maybe I shouldn't worry so much. Maybe I should take the same mindset regarding Larry Doby as I do with Barry Bonds - don't get too bent out of shape about the way things are being handled now; instead, formulate a firm viewpoint of my own and continue baseball's oral tradition by passing that viewpoint down to my children and encouraging them to examine all sides of the issue before coming to their own conclusions. But I don't know. Somehow, it feels like Larry deserves better.