Tonight is Game 6 of the World Series, and everybody is in a frenzy. Both the Indians and Cubs look to end long title droughts and make history at the same time. The Indians hold a three games to two lead on the Cubs. So far the series has been exciting and fun to watch. Watching the game Sunday I could only think about the two teams in a different setting. Both the Indians and Cubs were two of the first major league teams to bring up Negro League ball players. The Indians followed the Dodgers and brought up Larry Doby just months after Jackie Robinson. A year later they included arguably the greatest pitcher ever Satchel Paige . The Cubs then signed Ernie Banks in 1953. The three men would go on to make these teams better and establish Hall of Fame careers for themselves in the process.
Larry Doby was a young man when the Newark Eagles signed him to their ball club. Doby, just 17 at the time was a all around athlete playing baseball, basketball, and football. Doby was a major component to the Eagles. The fielder help win the 1946 World Series against the Kansas City Monarchs, and showed that youth meant nothing in this game for it was all about skills. Bill Veeck of the Indians was looking to bring a guy to the majors since 1942, and in 1947 he granted his desires. Doby earned a starting position in center field and established himself as a true ballplayer. He and Jackie Robinson kept in contact during their transition to encourage each other. Doby went on to becoming a Hall of Famer and a history maker. Doby was the first black man to be signed in the American League of baseball. Doby was a 7x All Star, World Series Champion, and 2x AL RBI Leader. His number 14 is retired in the Indians stadium.
Unlike Doby Satchel Paige was a lot older in 1947. Paige who had played in the Negro Leagues since the late 20s was already a Hall of Famer to most. Paige is regarded as the best player in Negro League history. His 6 foot 4 frame helped him on the mound day in and day out. While barn storming, Joe DiMaggio said that Paige was toughest pitcher he had ever played against. Having said all of this no one wanted to take the chance on signing him to a Major League deal. By the time Bill Veeck looked to bring Satch up he was a 44 year old man. 44 years is old in sports but it didn’t slow Paige down. Paige earned a 6-1 record in his inaugural year with the team and posted a 2.38 ERA. The combination of Paige and Doby help the Indians win the World Series in 1948. Paige went on to play until his 50’s. He is credited for being the first black ball player to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.
Ernie Banks would follow Robinson, Doby, and Campanella. Ernie Banks played for the Kansas Monarchs where he earned a .347 batting average in 1953. That same year the Chicago Cubs called his name to join the team. Banks had an outstanding career with the Cubs, playing their for 17 years, earning 11 all star appearances, 2 NL MVPs hitting 500 homeruns, and earning the nickaname “Mr. Cub” . Banks had such a impact on the team that their is a statue outside Wrigley in his honor. Ernie Banks unfortunately passed away last year. One could only imagine the joy he would’ve had if he could see the Cubs in the Fall Classic.
The Cubs and Indians organization are who they are today because of these great men. They brought a new way to play the game , and helped their teams in the process. As we watch the World Series let’s remember Satch, Doby, and Mr. Cub. Not only were these men heros in their day but they are still to this day. They broke the barriers for today’s Cubs and Indians players so that they could enjoy the game for what it is.