Larry Doby settled into the outfield in Cleveland Stadium and was called the best center fielder in the game by the Sporting News in 1950. Doby led the American League with 32 home runs and 126 RBI as the Indians won the pennant in 1954.
He was traded to Chicago after the 1955 season, and spent two years at Comiskey before coming back to Cleveland. The Indians traded him to Detroit in 1959 for Tito Francona. Doby was the first black player for the Tigers. Bill Veeck traded midseason for him to play for the White Sox that year as well.
Doby, the second black player in the majors, also became the second black manager. Doby was a coach for the Indians when he was bypassed for Frank Robinson, the first black manager, and went to Chicago, where he was reunited once again with Veeck. He became the Pale Hose manager in 1978 after Veeck fired Bob Lemon, and resigned after the 1979 season.
The Indians retired his number 14 in 1994, and four years later, he was elected to the Hall of Fame. Doby died in 2003. He appeared on a Heroes of Baseball postage stamp in 2012, and the street outside of left field at Progressive Field has been renamed Larry Doby Way.
Steve Gromek, whose hug of Doby was immortalized on the front page of the Plain Dealer, was traded to his hometown Tigers in 1953, along with Ray Boone. Gromek pitched until 1957, spent a year managing in the minor leagues, then returned to Detroit, where he sold car insurance. He died in 2002.
Boone led the American League with 115 RBI in 1955 with Detroit, where he spent five years, and retired in 1960 after stints with the White Sox, Athletics, Braves and Red Sox. Boone’s son Bob played Major League Baseball, as did grandsons Aaron (who spent two years with the Indians) and Bret.
The Boones are the only three-generation All-Star family in Major League Baseball.
Satchel Paige went 4-7 for the Indians in 1949 and was released. Two years later, Paige and Veeck were reunited. Veeck had bought the St. Louis Browns and signed Paige to a contract. In 1952 and 1953, Paige was named to the American League All-Star team.
He made his final major league appearance September 25, 1965, starting a game for the Kansas City Athletics. In 1966, Ted Williams was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and in his speech, he demanded the hall begin to consider inducting Negro League players. Paige was the first inductee in 1971. The baseball lifer died in 1982, his age a matter of some mystery, but pegged around 76.
Dale Mitchell played with the Indians until 1956. He had a career year in 1949, hitting .317 and leading the league with 203 hits, 161 singles and 23 triples. His contract was bought by the Dodgers in 1956, and he played for them in the World Series that year, his third appearance in the Fall Classic. Mitchell became the answer to a trivia question, pinch-hitting to become the 27th and final out in Don Larsen’s perfect game. He retired after the season with a career .312 batting average, and died in 1987. Mitchell, a University of Oklahoma alumnus, is the namesake for the college’s baseball diamond.
Bob Muncrief was sold to the Pirates after the 1948 season. The Bucs put him on waivers, where he was claimed by the Cubs. The Yankees picked Muncrief in the 1950 Rule 5 draft, but he made just two appearances in pinstripes in 1951. Overall, Muncrief had a career record of 80-82. He died in 1996.
Among Muncrief’s teammates in Pittsburgh in 1949 was Wally Judnich. Judnich, who had come to Cleveland in a trade from the St. Louis Browns with Muncrief, appeared in ten games. Judnich, a San Francisco native, continued his playing career in the Pacific Coast League. He died in 1971.
Hal Peck appeared in 33 games for the Indians in 1949, his last year in the majors. He returned to his native Wisconsin, where he died in 1995.
Allie Clark and Thurman Tucker were able to stay with the Indians – albeit in limited roles – until 1951. Clark was dealt to the Athletics that year. He played in Philadelphia until 1953, when he was sold to the White Sox. His major league career ended that year, but he was able to play minor league baseball for another five years before returning to his native South Amboy, New Jersey. He worked as an ironworker and served as a city councilman. He died in 2012.
Tucker ended up being sent down to Triple-A San Diego in 1951 and spent four years in the minor leagues before retiring from baseball. He served as a scout for the Houston Colt .45s (later the Astros) and lived in Oklahoma City, where he sold insurance. He died in 1993.
Hank Edwards played in five games for the Indians in 1949 before being put on waivers. He was picked up by the Cubs. After the 1950 season, the Cubs traded him to the Dodgers with cash for Dee Fondy and Chuck Connors, who played in 66 games for the Cubs but went on to greater fame as TV’s Rifleman. Edwards bounced around with stops in Cincinnati, Chicago (the South Side) and Baltimore before retiring in 1954. He died in 1988. Edwards, who was born near Cincinnati but grew up in Norwalk, is in the Norwalk High School Hall of Fame.
Sam Zoldak went 1-2 for the Indians in 1949 and 4-2 in 1950. In 1951, he was part of the three-team trade that brought Lou Brissie to Cleveland and sent Minnie Minoso from Cleveland to the White Sox. Ray Murray was also dealt in that trade. Both Murray and Zoldak ended up in Philadelphia, where they played until 1953. Murray was able to latch on in Baltimore for the 1954 season. Murray died in 2003. Zoldak died in 1966.
Bill Kennedy, the pitcher traded by Cleveland for Zoldak, finished with a career record of 15-28 in eight years. In addition to the Browns, he played for the White Sox, Red Sox and Reds before hanging it up in 1957. He died in 1983.
Bob Kennedy stayed with the Indians until 1954, when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Kennedy played until 1957, with the Tigers, White Sox and Dodgers. After his playing career ended, he became head coach for the Cubs during their College of Coaches experiment, and was the first manager of the Athletics after their move to Oakland. He died in 2005.
Main Photo: fcshof.com
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Bonus photos from the archives: