WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Jim Renacci (R-OH) honored of Larry Doby’s many achievements and contributions to American major league athletics, civil rights, and the armed forces by cosponsoring the Larry Doby Congressional Gold Medal Act to posthumously award him the Congressional Gold Medal.
"Like me, Larry Doby started out as a kid on the streets of Paterson, New Jersey, but he went on to blossom into a sports legend, a pioneer of American civil rights, and a man of great service to his country," Rep. Pascrell said.
"Larry handled adversity with strength and served as an inspiration for minority kids and adults since his landmark introduction to the major league. Paterson couldn't be prouder to call him one of our own, and now we call on Congress to bestow this overdue honor to Larry's family. I appreciate my friend my Ohio, Rep. Renacci, for joining me in this bipartisan effort to recognize a great American."
In one of his first acts upon coming to Congress in 1997, Rep. Pascrell sponsored legislation in Congress (H.R. 2116) designating the post office at 194 Ward Street in Paterson as the Larry Doby Post Office, which was signed by President Bill Clinton and became Public Law 105-162. In 2012, the United States Postal Service released a commemorative postage stamp with Larry Doby’s likeness. Pascrell joined the USPS for a ceremony to unveil the stamp at the Larry Doby Post Office.
"Baseball before Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson was informally segregated. While Jackie Robinson was the first African American player in the National League, the Cleveland Indians made Larry Doby the first in the American League – forever changing the face of baseball," Rep. Renacci said.
"Not only did Doby wear an Indians’ uniform proudly as the first black player to play in the World Series, but he wore our nation’s uniform while he served in the Navy during WWII. I am pleased to join my friend and colleague Rep. Pascrell in introducing this legislation to honor Larry Doby for the great strides he made for the game of baseball and the civil rights movement in the United States. Go Tribe!"
“The Cleveland Indians organization is very proud of Larry Doby’s legacy,” said Indians Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Bob DiBiasio.
“Mr. Doby, a symbol of equality and freedom of opportunity, stood with grace, dignity and a competitive spirit that resonated throughout Ohio and across America.”
Congressional Gold Medal
Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. The medal was first awarded in 1776 by the Second Continental Congress to General George Washington. Over 300 medals have been awarded. Jackie Robinson was awarded in 2003. Recent ones have been awarded to golfer Jack Nicklaus, Israeli PM Shimon Peres, and the Selma – Montgomery Freedom Marchers.
The Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are generally considered to carry the same level of prestige (though significantly fewer Gold Medals have been awarded). The chief difference between the two is that the Freedom Medal is personally awarded by the President of the United States, and Congressional Gold Medals are awarded by Acts of Congress (Congress may authorize the President to present the award).
Per committee rules, legislation bestowing a Congressional Gold Medal upon a recipient must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of the membership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate before their respective committees (the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs) will consider it.
A Congressional Gold Medal is designed by the United States Mint to specifically commemorate the person and achievement for which the medal is awarded. Medals are therefore different in appearance, and there is no standard design.
Lawrence Eugene “Larry” Doby was an extraordinary individual and a sports legend that broke through racial barriers by becoming the first African American to play professional baseball in the American League. Upon his honorable discharge from the United States Navy in 1946, Larry Doby played baseball in the Negro League for the Newark Eagles. In 1947, his contract was purchased by the Cleveland Indians where he began his illustrious 13 year career in the American League. After appearing in 1,533 games and batting .283, with 253 home runs and 969 runs batted in, and being voted to seven all-star teams, Larry Doby was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
In addition to being the first African American to play and hit a home run in a World Series, Larry Doby was deeply committed to his community. In expression of this profound commitment, Larry served as the Director of Community Relations for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. This position granted Larry the opportunity to leverage his character and stature to participate in and influence youth in many of New Jersey’s inner cities.