It’s always nice to honor the true legends of the game. That’s exactly what the United States Postal Service will do this summer when they issue a postage stamp for Larry Doby, a trailblazer and a terrific baseball player. Doby will receive a postage stamp along with three other baseball greats Willie Stargell, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams as a part of the Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps on July 20 at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Each of these Hall of Famers were outstanding major league players. They all made huge contributions. Doby was the first African American to play on an American League baseball team, joining the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947. He integrated the league just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in the National League. In fact, this year is the 65th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
“This is quite an honor for him to be recognized by the United States Postal Service along with three other good guys Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Stargell,” said his son, Larry Doby, Jr. “It’s a great honor. I’m very proud of it. I’m looking forward to it. “
Doby helped to pave the way for other Blacks to play baseball. He helped to lay the foundation for racial progress in the game of baseball, which is known as America’s pastime.
Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina and raised mostly by his maternal grandmother while his mother made a living as a domestic worker in Paterson, N.J. He eventually joined his mother in Paterson and attended Eastside High School, where he picked up 11 varsity letters from playing different sports.
Prior to graduating from high school, Doby started his baseball career with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League. After spending time in the U.S. Navy as a physical training instructor during World War II, Doby came back to the Eagles in 1946. That season he helped the Eagles defeat Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro World Series championship. Doby and Paige were great stars from the Negro Leagues. The Negro Leagues featured players such as Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Judy Johnson and Oscar Charleston. The following year Doby hit over .400 at midseason when Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians purchased his contract and brought him to the majors.
Doby’s white teammates gave him a chilly reception and he spent his first season on the bench. He batted .301 for the season and helped Cleveland win the pennant. During the fourth game of the World Series against the Boston Braves, he became the first Black player to hit a home run in a Major League Baseball World Series, which Cleveland won.
The following season Doby was chosen to the American League all-star team, which he made for each of the next six years. In 1950, Sporting News named him the best centerfielder in baseball, ahead of DiMaggio. He led the league in home runs and runs scored in 1952. Two years later, he again led the league in home runs, helping the Indians reach the World Series. In 1955, Doby set an American League record for an outfielder with 164 straight errorless games.
When his career was over, he coached for the Montreal Expos, the Cleveland Indians, and the Chicago White Sox. In 1978, Doby was hired as manager of the White Sox, making him the second African American to manage a major league team.
Doby was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. He died on June 18, 2003 in Montclair, N.J. With the U.S. Postal Service issuing stamps of Doby, DiMaggio, Stargell and Williams, young people can learn about their legacy and others can reflect on their magnificent baseball careers.
Major League Baseball fans will have a chance to celebrate their favorite players as a group or individually. Due to the overwhelming response after the recent announcement to recognize Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Willie Stargell and Ted Williams collectively on a single sheet of 20 Forever stamps, the U.S. Postal Service announced that it will issue sheets of 20 stamps honoring each player individually. The events will be held in Cooperstown and the cities where each one played.
“We’ve heard from Indians, Pirates, Red Sox and Yankee fans and we’re stepping up to the plate to immortalize their revered players individually,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Manager Stephen Kearney in a statement. “We have a limited quantity of individual player stamp sheets ready to fill all preorders now for shipment on July 21 — with these orders getting top priority,” he added. “It will be interesting to learn which of the four players sells the most individual sheets. Orders received for individual player stamp sheets will be accepted and honored through August 31, 2012, even if it requires additional printing.”
Kearney noted that the individual player stamp sheets will be sold only in limited quantities beginning July 21 at select post offices in Boston, Cleveland, Cooperstown, New York and Pittsburgh. Customers can order them between now and August 31.
DiMaggio (1914–1999) was known as the “Yankee Clipper.” He was also known for his amazing 56-game hitting streak in 1941 — the season of “the Streak.” DiMaggio led the New York Yankees to 10 pennants and nine World Series titles.
Doby (1923–2003) was the first African American to play in the American League, joining the Cleveland Indians shortly after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the National League. The seven-time all-star was a great hitter and centerfielder. He set an American League outfielder record for 164 consecutive errorless games.
Stargell (1940–2001) led the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates to a World Series championship. The seven-time all-star hit 475 career home runs.
Williams (1918–2002) of the Boston Red Sox served in the military during World War II and the Korean War. The last major league player to hit over .400 for a single season, in 1941, Williams won six American League batting championships and four home run titles. Despite the breaks in his career, Williams hit .344 over 19 years, including 521 home runs.
Fans can pre-order the stamps now by going to www.usps.com/play-ball.
When Ted Williams, “The Man with the Golden Voice,” visited Philadelphia, he touted the importance of supporting recovery efforts to those dealing with addictions.
Williams was in town for Saturday’s PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! — an annual fundraising event whose goal is to raise awareness of drug and alcohol addiction as a public concern, and to provide hope that recovery is possible.
“I want to get out here and encourage people to support recovering people. I want to try to help eliminate the stigmas,” Williams said of his support for the event.
“When people think about recovering people they say ‘once a crackhead, always a crackhead,’ ‘once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic’ and ‘once a gambler, always a gambler.’ We can recover.”
He wants those who are struggling to overcome their addictions to know that they can recover, gain meaningful employment, become contributing taxpayers and be responsible.
“I have a bad taste in my mouth when people say, ‘You’ll never recover.’ No, I’m recovering. In the process of recovering, I’m able to pay taxes and put food on the table and to provide. That means a lot,” he said.
The professional voiceover artist became a YouTube sensation in January 2011 after being discovered, homeless and panhandling, in Columbus, Ohio. A video of Williams by a Columbus Dispatch reporter went viral, with more than 20 million views. He would later appear on the “TODAY” show and several late-night talk shows.
During the 1980s, Williams was the top, drive-time disc jockey in Columbus, Ohio, but addictions to crack, cocaine and alcohol cost him his job and family. After two stints in rehab, Williams has been clean and sober for more than a year.
He’s been taking his recovery one day at a time. He admits that he still has his moments where he feels like he wants to use drugs and goes through withdrawal.
“I’m going through a transformation. We’re all a work in progress,” said Williams, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I didn’t think that I was going to concentrate on trying to stay clean and sober at all. I thought for sure that I was earmarked for hell. As many people as I have deprived of their goods, robbed and conned, I thought there was a place for me especially,” Williams said as he spoke candidly about his past.
To that end, Williams never thought he’d get to a point where he would see his commercial air on television or develop a biography.
While he grew up in a spiritual home, Williams says he didn’t develop a real relationship with God until he was on the streets.
“It was the first time I was hearing his voice, internalizing his acknowledgement of what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong,” he said.
Today, Williams says his motto is “Put God first and all things are possible.”
“It’s God first, then sobriety, then family,” he says.
Williams has been keeping busy. He launched the Ted Williams Second Chance Foundation to assist homeless shelters in obtaining items such as mattresses.
Last year, Williams started doing voice work for Kraft. He is still the voice of Kraft’s Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese television ad.
In May, Williams released a biography titled “A Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work and Humility Brought Me From the Streets to Salvation,” written with Bret Witter. The book chronicles his 17 years on the streets, his rise to fame and his struggle for recovery. Plans are in the works to take the memoir to the made-for-film market.
Last year’s Recovery Walks drew more than 15,000 attendees. The event was a fundraiser to support PRO-ACT’s prevention, advocacy and recovery support services. The walk is one of several events that the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania and PRO-ACT held as a part of Recovery Month, a national initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series a month ago, and although the team has something special to cheer about, so do the fans of Willie Stargell. They stepped up to the plate in the Stamps Batted In (SBI) pennant race to position the Pittsburgh Pirate icon as the Most Popular Player (MPP) among four icons immortalized on the Major League Baseball All-Stars Forever stamps last summer.
Before the stamps issuance on July 20, the postal service started a friendly pre-order stamp competition in late May among fans of Stargell and other players commemorated on the stamps — Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians and Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. Williams took the lead at the beginning with DiMaggio nudging ahead a week prior to the first day of the issuance ceremony only to have Williams take it back.
“Fan support of their favorite players was so strong that we decided to continue this friendly competition through the end of the World Series,” said Stephen Kearney, stamp services manager, referring to the 2.29 million stamps pre-ordered. “I encourage fans to continue supporting their favorite player while the stamps are still available.”
More than 32 million stamps have been sold. Three million stamps on sheets of 20 were printed for each individual player in addition to the 80 million stamps on sheets of 20 honoring all four players.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Forever stamp collectables can be purchased by calling 800-STAMP24 or by visiting select post offices.