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Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham among lawmakers seeking to honor Camden native and baseball great Larry Doby with Congressional Gold Medal

April 5, 2017 GMT

South Carolina’s two U.S. Senators and six other lawmakers want to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the late Larry Doby, a Camden native who was one of the first African Americans to play Major League Baseball.

Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, joined others in introducing a bill to honor Doby.

He was the first African American to play in baseball’s American League when he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1947.

Seventy years after Doby broke into the majors – and now a few days into the 2017 baseball season, Scott wrote Tuesday in a joint press release that the Camden native showed “sacrifice and perseverance” by using baseball to contribute to the American Civil Rights Movement.

“Trailblazers like South Carolina native Larry Doby deserve to be recognized for taking the first step that has opened the door to so many,” Scott wrote.

Doby played 13 seasons, including 10 with the Indians, and was a seven-time all-star. An average season for Doby included a .283 batting average, with 27 home runs and 103 RBIs.

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In 1948, Doby led the Indians to a World Series championship over the Boston Braves. He was the first African American player to hit a home run in a World Series game.

In 1978, the Chicago White Sox hired Doby as their manager and he became the second African-American manager in Major League history.

Doby was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. He died in 2003 at the age of 79, and was inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2013.

Bob DiBiasio, the Indians’ senior vice president of public affairs, wrote in the press release that the organization is proud of the legacy Doby left in baseball and in America.

DiBiasio said Doby is a “symbol of equality and freedom of opportunity,” who maintained “grace, dignity and a competitive spirit.”

Beyond the baseball diamond, the lawmakers want to honor Doby for standing strong in the face of racism and oppression.

Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, said Doby inspired a generation and made a lasting impact on American history.

“And long after his baseball career was over, he continued to serve his community in New Jersey,” Booker wrote. “The Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting recognition for an individual who helped change our national pastime and our country for the better.”