PATERSON, N.J. -- Seventy-five years ago, Paterson's Larry Doby broke the color barrier in baseball's American League.
On Tuesday morning, the city honored him. There is also momentum for Major League Baseball to do more to honor the trailblazer, CBS2's Otis Livingston reported.
The famous number 14 was on the back of jerseys all over Larry Doby Field, as the city came out to honor one of its own on the 75th anniversary of Doby breaking the color barrier in the AL.
"It always means something when it's your hometown that takes care of it. Paterson didn't forget about him, and this is where it all began for him. This is where he met my mom. This is where he excelled in four sports at East Side High School," Larry Doby Jr. said.
Chief among them, baseball, where his exploits took him from East Side High to the minor leagues with the Newark Eagles, and then to that historic day more than seven decades ago with the then-Cleveland Indians. Doby was a source of pride for Paterson. Just ask Joe Verila, the curator of the Larry Doby Exhibit.
"He was my childhood hero. And back then we'd say, 'Larry Doby, he's from Paterson, New Jersey. He was the first Black player in the American League.' But we had no idea what that meant. I only found that out much later. And now he's my hero because of what he had to endure to play Major League Baseball, and changed the world," Verila said.
A world that was filled with racism, the same racism that Jackie Robinson had to endure when he broke the Major League color barrier less than three months earlier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
"There are stories of when he arrived in the clubhouse some of his teammates didn't want to shake his hand. In fact, two of his teammates turned their backs on Larry Doby," Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said.
Now there's a push to not only see Larry Doby Day in Paterson, but nationally in the big leagues, just like Robinson's annual day.
"My family and myself would love it, and we would be humbled and honored, but it's for the powers that be and we just are hopeful that somebody will see fit to do it. And if not, we still have Paterson and Cleveland who are championing his effort," Doby Jr. said.
"It's gotta happen. They can't wait anymore, really. It's ridiculous. I mean, Major League Baseball, please step up and do this," Verila added.
As we wait for that day to come, maybe there's a future big league star among those wearing the number 14 today.
"I hope that they realize that he sat in the same public school classrooms as they did. I hope that they do not ever sell their dreams short because dreams do come true with hard work. I just hope that they realize how important education is and how important holding on to their dreams are," Doby Jr. said.
Larry Doby was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 1998.
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