Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Nitty Gritty on the Legendary Larry Doby!

Today’s Nitty Gritty Card of the Day (evening edition) is from the 1958 Topps set and features one of my favorite players of all time, it is card number 424 of Cleveland Indians outfielder Larry Doby. This is another one of the great vintage cards that came my way from Chris of the Project 1962 blog. I keep on promising to post the whole lot of cards that he sent, but I continue to post them one at a time over here. Sooner or later they will all get posted. There is a poll up on the Collective Troll encouraging readers to vote for the next player that I collect. Larry Doby is one of my favorites of all time; he was a fantastic player who basically had 2 separate All Star careers in 2 separate leagues. He is historically significant and was truly one of the best ever. He would be a no-brainer to collect, but there is one problem… I want to collect one of EVERY SINGLE CARD EVER made of the player that I collect. Doby has a lot of pricey cards. I don’t mind paying for his late 40s and early 50s classic vintage cards, but cards like this one here which is listed on eBay with a BIN price of $499.00 make me nervous. I know that just because they are asking it doesn't mean that is what its worth, but I am pretty sure I can't find this card for 5 bucks. Just saying. On a good day I might pay 100 bucks for a vintage card of a player that I love. I have paid 200 bucks for a vintage rookie of a player that I really liked that was in a set I was trying to finish. I don’t plan on doing that ever again, but I still wouldn’t pay more than 30 bucks for a current card, no matter how great the player is or how rare the card is. It’s a good looking card of a great player, but it’s practically a mortgage payment. Can’t do it. The other guys that y’all seem to be leaning towards like Oscar Gamble and Roy Face would be much more logical options. That said I will collect whomever the Troll readers choose. If y’all pick Doby, I will gladly scour the countryside for bargains on each and every one of his cards and I will be proud to own them. The reason why I say he was a man with two careers is that during the 1940s he was an All Star second baseman for the Newark Eagles from 1942 until he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1947. In between those teams he lost a couple of years serving in World War II. With the Eagles, he played alongside a number of future Hall of Fame players including Willie Wells, Ray Dandridge, Monte Irvin and Leon Day. The Eagles won the Negro World Series in 1946 and the following season Doby broke the color barrier in the American League when he joined the Indians in July. As a rookie his play was limited and he only made it into 29 games, mainly as a pinch hitter. The following season however, he took over as the Indians starting centerfielder and he batted .301 to help lead the Indians to the World Series. In the Series he batted .318 with a homerun and 2 RBI and the Indians defeated the Braves to win the World Championship. In 1949 he was named to his first All Star team in the major leagues. It would begin a streak for him of 7 consecutive All Star appearances, highlighted in 1950 when he started the game in centerfield and played the entire game and reached base twice with a double and a run scored. He owns a .300 career All Star batting average in the majors. In 1954 he entered the game as a pinch hitter and hit a homerun in his only at-bat. During the regular season in ’54 he had another great year at the plate. He batted .272 and slugged 32 homers and drove in 126 runs. He paced the AL in the latter 2 categories. He also led the Indians to a second American League pennant. Larry Doby had a subpar Series and the Tribe fell to the Giants who were led by his former teammate and friend Monte Irvin. 1955 his run production fell off a bit and it was the last time he was named to the All Star team, but he did not play. After the ’55 season he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Chico Carrasquel and Jim Busby. With the Sox he topped the 100 RBI plateau for the 5th time and the 100 walk mark for the 4th time. His time in Chicago was short-lived and he would be traded to the Baltimore Orioles in a 7-player deal after the 1957 season. He never played a single inning for the Orioles and was traded back to the Indians right before the first pitch of the ’58 season when this card was produced. The back of the card mentions that Doby was a 4-sport athlete in high school and that he led the AL in homers twice with 32 homers each time. It also calls him one of the most consistent RBI men in the game. He would drive in 45 runs for the Indians in 1958, but he played in only 89 games that year. They traded him again, this time to the Detroit Tigers prior to the ’59 season in exchange for Tito Francona. He would only play in 19 games in Detroit before they sold him back to the White Sox. 1959 would be Doby’s final season. Injuries had slowed him down and he retired from the Major Leagues at age 35. He would return to the game to begin a third career playing in Japan in the 1960s. His final career numbers included 253 homers and 970 RBI over 1533 games and 13 seasons. He owns a career batting of .283 and a .490 slugging percentage. He led the AL in homers twice and also paced the league in runs scored, runs batted in, slugging and on-base percentage. His major league career was cut short by injuries and it started late due to segregation and that didn’t allow Doby to post the career numbers that many of his peers in the Hall of Fame did, but even with only 10 full seasons of production, he was among the league’s best during those 10 seasons. He was in the top ten in slugging percentage, walks, total bases, times on base and at-bats/homeruns 8 times. He was in the top ten in homers and RBI 7 times and was among the top ten in runs scored 6 times. Baseball Reference dot com shows his 162 game average including a .283 batting average with 107 walks, 103 runs scored, 160 hits, 26 doubles, 5 triples and 27 homeruns in addition to 103 runs batted in and an OPS of .876. After retiring as a player Doby was a coach with both the Cleveland Indians and the Montreal Expos. He also briefly managed the Chicago White Sox for 87 games in 1978. He received the ultimate honor for a baseball player when the Veterans Committee elected him to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. He was inducted along with turn of the century infielder George Davis, fellow negro league star Bullet Joe Rogan, executive Lee MacPhail and 300 game winner Don Sutton. Doby was able to attend the ceremony and accept the honor. He passed away 5 years after being immortalized. He will forever be ingrained into the rich history of baseball and will live forever in the hearts and memories of fans. Thanks so much to Chris of Project 1962 for this great card and all of the fond memories that came along with it. For the current cards that came from Project 1962, click HERE. For the rest of the vintage he sent, stay tuned! To the dear readers who stuck it out and read this entire post, I thank you! It happens so often that I begin to post about a single card and drift off into their life story. I just love this game and this hobby and it’s legends soo much! 52 years, LATER!

1 comment:

  1. I actually voted for Doby. I thought it'd be cool to see someone collect him. I had no idea his stuff went for such mucho dinero.