An effort is underway in Washington, D.C. to honor South Carolina native and baseball hall-of-famer Larry Doby with the Congressional Gold Medal.
The House voted overwhelmingly this month to approve the measure. Click here to read the bill.
“It’s not easy to get 300 of your colleagues in this body to agree on anything — that it’s Tuesday would be difficult to get them to agree on — much less awarding a gold medal,” joked Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-MI.
Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina but his family moved to Paterson, New Jersey when he was a teenager. Doby became a proficient baseball and basketball player.
He was the first African-American to play in the American League when he was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1947. Four months earlier, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues when he signed with the National League’s Brooklyn Dodgers.
“Being second did not make his challenge any less difficult or his courage any less remarkable,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, (D-NJ), lead Democrat sponsor of the bill. “Larry was also treated to horrible racism. Even some of this teammates shunned him.”
“This was a special, special person,” Pascrell said.
Both Doby and Robinson went on to have careers that landed them spots in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Once his playing days were over, Doby continued a life in professional sports working in both baseball and basketball.
“It is right recognition for Larry Doby’s athletic feats, his courageous leadership, the opportunities he created for others and the inspiration he gave to millions,” Pascrell said. “We are fortunate to have heroes who inspire us to achieve our best and lead our communities towards the positive change. These are the uniters in our community and that’s what we need more of.”
The Senate has not yet taken up the bill. South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott are among dozens of co-sponsors.