Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-06-24 08:48
by Alex Belth


There was a memorial service for Larry Doby yesterday in Monclair, New Jersey. Yogi Berra, Bill White, and Joe Morgan all showed up. Harvey Aaraton , of the Times was there too:

"Tell me, tell me," the young son bearing his father's famous name used to say. "I want to know about when you played."

Larry Doby Sr. would not give in to the wishes of his star-struck child. It was not his way. "I do not live in the past," he would tell Larry Doby Jr. "I live for tomorrow."

...In the age of intrusiveness, Doby was never much interested in baring his soul up close and personal, not even at home, for family archives.

"I wanted him to sit down in front of the camera, him and my mother," Doby Jr., 45, said. "They didn't want to do that. My father would say, 'It's in the history books.' ''

..."He would say things like, 'Early Wynn, I knew if he was pitching I was O.K. because if they knocked me down, then two of their guys were going down,' '' Doby Jr. said. "I believe that he and Jackie Robinson - to us it was always Mr. Robinson - would talk about the good guys and the bad guys, but to everyone else, it was only about the good guys."

I've been critical of the lack of interest in Doby's legacy by scholars and the baseball community in general, but perhaps it all started with the man himself. It seems as if Doby wasn't interested in promoting or rehashing his playing career.

Fay Vincent had a column about Doby on Sunday, and mentioned that Doby was a man who didn't harbor any bitterness. I don't buy it. Sure, he probably mellowed over the years, but I just think he chose to keep his feelings to himself. Remember the quotation I found from Sports Illustrated circa 1968:

"You know those junkyards along the highways in Jersey? Well they have scrap heaps just like that for athletes---most of them black. Black athletes are cattle. They're raised, fed, sold and killed...Baseball moved me toward the front of the bus, and it let me ride there as long as I could run. And then it told me to get off at the back door."

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