Today in Tribe History: July 5, 1947

Two days after purchasing his contract from the Newark Eagles, Larry Doby makes his Major League debut with the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first black player in the American League.

The 23-year-old entered the game in the top of the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter for reliever Bryan Stephens. The Indians’ Joe Gordon and Ken Keltner had worked back-to-back walks off of starter Eddie Smith in a 5-1 game and, after Hank Edwards grounded into a fielder’s choice that retired Keltner at second off of reliever Earl Harrist, Doby got the call and struck out for the second out of the inning in his only trip to the plate. The next two batters, George Metkovich and Dale Mitchell, each delivered RBI-singles to make it a 5-3 game at the time.

Doby was replaced in the lineup in the bottom of the frame by pitcher Bob Lemon, who wrapped up the game with two innings of relief work. Cleveland would lose by a 6-5 final.

Doby made his first career start the next day in the second game of a doubleheader, playing at first base. He got his first career hit and drove in his first RBI in the 5-1 win over Chicago. He played sparingly over the course of the rest of the year, almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. He did not make another start the rest of the season after the work on July 6.

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