I bought Doby into 10th place with his bonus on being one of the first black players in the game. Practically being the first to play in the American League. Now was that a mistake? Well here are the next 6 centerfielders on my list:
I have no problem putting Doby in front of these six players, even though they are all great players. From 1950 to 1952 Doby along with Ted Williams was the best hitter in the American League. It helped Doby that Williams was hurt part of 1950 and went to Korea in 1952. However, when Williams did play their OPS+ was about the same, with Williams having a slight edge. No one knew it at the time. While Boston was a good hitter’s park, Cleveland was a great pitcher’s park. I have no problem with anyone who can keep up in the hitting department with Ted Williams for two seasons being in the top 10 players for a position.
In 1948 Cleveland won the World Series making Doby and Satchel Paige the first two black players on a World Series winner between the National and American League. In game 4, Cleveland was up 2 games to1 and Lou Boudreau had a surprised starter in Steve Gromek. Gromek pitched great for a 2-1 win with Doby hitting a homerun in the third to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead. There is a pitcher of the two after the game hugging. It became a famous picture showing a black and white player celebrating an important victory. Remember this was the next season after Jackie Robinson got to play in the “white” major leagues. Thank you Larry Doby and Steve Gromek.