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 Rule 5 draft has been around in some form since 1903. The annual selection helped to spread the wealth around the league, preventing teams from stockpiling talent while allowing deserving players to get an opportunity to reach the Majors and avoid potential roadblocks in front of them on their home roster.
While historically, the most successful Rule 5 selections have been average players at best, a handful have turned into All-Stars and even a couple have become Hall of Famers.
The Cleveland Indians have not had many brag-worthy selections in their history, but one such pick became a big contributor to their pennant chase and, ultimately, their second World Series title in 1948, but not quite in the way the club might have envisioned.
June 16, 1948
Just hours before Tuesday night’s midnight trade deadline struck, the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns worked out a trade of left-handed starting pitchers.
The Indians acquired veteran Sam Zoldak in the deal in exchange for rookie Bill Kennedy and a “large amount of cash.” The Browns also will acquire a player to be named later that will be sent to St. Louis prior to the start of the 1949 season.
“It was a case of begging for him on our knees,” Indians President Bill Veeck said. “I think it’ll be worth it though. He should help a lot.”
June 10, 1948
Two days ago, the Cleveland Indians snapped the Boston Red Sox five-game win streak. After a rainout yesterday, it seems turnabout is fair play.
The BoSox used a big third inning to chase Bob Feller from the game and took advantage of the Indians’ bullpen to send the Tribe packing out of Boston, 15-7. The eight runs allowed by the Indians in the third inning are the most they’ve surrendered in an inning all season. Feller had control issues from the beginning, allowing six walks in his two and two-thirds innings of work.
May 30, 1948
It was recently announced that the United States is going to send a rhesus monkey named Albert into space on a V2 rocket sometime this June. If you heard of this while attending Sunday’s second game at Comiskey Park, it was only the second craziest news of your day.
The Cleveland Indians used a nine-run eighth inning to come back and defeat the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a doubleheader, 13-8.
To make matters even more outlandish, the Indians used 21 players in the ballgame, lost a player to injury, had their player/manager/shortstop Lou Boudreau put on his catcher’s gear for the final two innings of the contest and pitched a man two innings out of the bullpen who had thrown nine innings the day prior. The Tribe pulled out all the stops Sunday evening and ended up pulling out a victory in the process.
May 21, 1948
Last night the Indians walked to a victory. This afternoon the Boston Red Sox hit back to even the series. Boston used 18 hits, equal to the amount of walks the Indians drew last night, poor Indian defense, and a strong wind off the lake to win 11-5 Friday afternoon.
Bill Kennedy was unable to recreate his first starting performance for the Tribe, and Ted Williams was 4-for-4 with two RBI and two walks to lead Boston in the matinee. The Splendid Splinter laced three singles around a mammoth home run in the sixth inning that landed in the right field upper deck. The crowd of 8,409 enjoyed a sunny afternoon for five innings before clouds and a stiff breeze entered the Stadium and sent many fans home early.
“Cleveland pitching always has been tough for me, so those hits today felt particularly good,” Williams said.