The 2012 Major League Baseball stamps are on sale now at Post Offices across America and in the USPS online store. We recently caught up with Larry Doby Jr., whose father, Larry Doby, is one of the four players honored on the stamps.
To Larry Doby Jr., seeing his father’s image on a U.S. postage stamp is still surreal.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said. “It’s not something that happens every day or to everybody.”
His dad, Larry Doby, is one of four players who appear on the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Stars issuance. His story may not be known by many baseball fans, but Doby was a pioneer. In the summer of 1947, mere months after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line, Doby became the American League’s first African-American player.
“Without a doubt, his contributions are part of the process that made it possible for others to come behind him,” Doby Jr. said.
The idea of appearing on a stamp pane with Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio—who were contemporaries—and Willie Stargell, would’ve pleased his father, who died in 2003. “He definitely respected all those guys,” Doby Jr. said. “He played against two of of them; coached against the other one. He would’ve been very honored.”
Growing up in New Jersey, Doby Jr. loved baseball but rarely heard about his father’s accomplishments. His dad, he says, was a humble man who cared far more about family than his glory days. “He was definitely reserved about it,” Doby Jr. says. “He was more about dealing with the present and the future, but as he got a little older, his tongue got a little looser.”
As he grew older, Doby Jr., who played baseball and football at Duke University, began to grasp the importance his father’s legacy. “I kind of figured it out,” he says. “He was fiercely proud of it. I was very quiet about it myself. That was the example he set. That was one of the qualities I inherit from him.”
In 1998, Larry Doby was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was an overdue but fitting honor.
“You kind of grew up your whole life never thinking it was going to happen,” says his son, who currently works for Madison Square Garden as a union stagehand. “You knew about all the special players in there. It was kind of surreal.”
Over the past few years, he’s enjoyed being part of the stamp creation process. The enormity of the situation didn’t really hit home, however, until he saw Kadir Nelson’s eye-catching painting for the stamp. Not until, he said, “you could actually see it. That was the next step to becoming a reality.”
Occasionally, when a stranger hears his name, Doby Jr. is asked if he’s related to the baseball player. He certainly doesn’t mind.
“It comes and it goes,” Doby Jr. said. “Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it happens all the time. It’s definitely a nice thing when somebody wonders if you’re related. That’s just part of being number two.”
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