Who Was the Fifth Black Baseball Player?
Baseball is one of the oldest sports in the United States, and it has had a long and complex history with race, particularly when it comes to African American players. The Major League Baseball (MLB) is widely credited as being the first professional sport to desegregate, with the signing of Jackie Robinson in 1947. But, who was the fifth black baseball player to join the MLB?
The Early Pioneers of the Sport
Before the desegregation of the sport, African American players were only allowed to compete in the Negro Leagues. The first African American baseball player to join a major league team was Moses Fleetwood Walker, who signed with the Toledo Blue Stockings (now the Toledo Mud Hens) of the American Association in 1884.
Despite the fact that the team was willing to accept Walker, the rest of the league was not, and he was barred from playing. Walker was the first of many African American players who were not given the opportunity to play in the majors due to their skin color.
The Negro Leagues
The Negro Leagues were founded in 1920 as a way for African American players to play professionally. The leagues provided a way for these players to make a living, and for the sport to flourish. While the Negro Leagues weren’t as well-funded or as organized as the Major Leagues, they provided an opportunity for African American players to hone their skills and prove themselves as talented athletes.
The Desegregation of Baseball
The desegregation of baseball began in 1946, when Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was the first African American player to break the color barrier in the Major Leagues. Soon after, other teams began to sign African American players, and the Negro Leagues began to dissolve.
The Fifth Black Baseball Player
The fifth African American player to make it to the Major Leagues was Larry Doby. Doby signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1947, just months after Robinson. Doby was a talented outfielder, and he was the first African American player to compete in the American League.
The Impact of Doby’s Signing
Doby’s signing with the Indians was a major milestone in baseball history. It was the first time that an African American player had been signed to an American League team, and it was the first time that an African American player had been signed to a team in the Midwest.
Doby’s signing marked the beginning of the desegregation of the American League, and it opened the door for other African American players to join the Major Leagues.
Doby was a pioneer in the desegregation of baseball, and he was a role model for many African American players who followed in his footsteps. He was a seven-time All-Star, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
Doby was also the first African American manager in the Major Leagues, when he took over as manager of the Chicago White Sox in 1978.
The Legacy of the Negro Leagues
The Negro Leagues were an important part of American history, and they were integral in the desegregation of baseball. While African American players were not given the same opportunities as their white counterparts in the Major Leagues, the Negro Leagues provided a platform for these players to showcase their talents and prove themselves as talented athletes.
The legacy of the Negro Leagues lives on today, and many of the players who competed in the Negro Leagues have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Future of Baseball
Today, African American players are a major part of baseball. According to MLB, African American players make up 8.3% of all players on Major League rosters in 2019, and the number of African American players in the sport has been steadily increasing over the last decade.
Larry Doby was the fifth African American player to join the Major Leagues, and he was a major figure in the desegregation of baseball. Doby was a pioneer in the sport, and he opened the door for other African American players to join the Major Leagues. The legacy of the Negro Leagues and of African American players in baseball is still present today, and the sport is continuing to grow and evolve.