Lawrence Eugene Doby (December 13, 1923 – June 18, 2003) was an American professional baseball player in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball (MLB) who was the second black player to break baseball's color barrier. A native of Camden, South Carolina and three-sport all-state athlete while in high school in Paterson, New Jersey, Doby accepted a basketball scholarship from Long Island University. At 17 years of age, he began his professional baseball career with the Newark Eagles as the team's second baseman. Doby joined the United States Navy during World War II. His military service complete, Doby returned to baseball in 1946, and along with teammate Monte Irvin, helped the Eagles win the Negro League World Series.
In July 1947—three months after Jackie Robinson made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers—Doby broke the MLB color barrier in the American League when he signed a contract to play with Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians. Doby was the first player to go directly to the majors from the Negro leagues. A seven-time All-Star center fielder, Doby and teammate Satchel Paige were the first African-American players to win a World Series championship when the Indians took the crown in 1948. He helped the Indians win a franchise-record 111 games and the AL pennant in 1954, finished second in the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award voting and was the AL's RBI leader and home run champion. He went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Chunichi Dragons before his retirement as a player in 1962.
Doby later served as the second black manager in the majors with the Chicago White Sox, and in 1995 was appointed to a position in the AL's executive office. He also served as a director with the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Hall's Veterans Committee and died in 2003 at the age of 79.
He is also known as Lawrence Eugene Doby.
Doby and his wife, Helyn, had five children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. When the Dobys moved to Montclair, Yogi Berra and his wife became neighborhood friends and children of the two families played baseball and football together. Doby had a kidney removed in 1997 after a cancerous tumour was detected. Helyn, married to Doby for 55 years, died in 2001 after a six-month battle with cancer.
Doby died on June 18, 2003, at his home in Montclair, New Jersey, at age 79 after suffering cancer. When Doby died, President George W. Bush made the following statement: