394789[1]February is Black History month.  On the Welcome to the Big Leagues blog it is also a month of Heroes–heroes and what it takes to be a hero.  Heroes are the most important people in our lives because, by example, they teach us what life is about and how to live it.

Salute your hero.  In the comment section, tell us who your hero is and why.  Your hero deserves it and a month of focus on hero behavior will inspire all of us.

Here is a hero that combines Black History Month, Baseball and heroes.  He is the guy who followed Jackie Robinson.  The character qualities that I admire most from these guys are, they endured unimaginable opposition, they were faithful to a noble cause against a whole world that opposed them and they did not know what would be accomplished.

FOXSPORTS, Sam Gardner, FEB 03, 2014 3:00p ET

When we think of the integration of baseball, the name that comes to mind for most is that of Jackie Robinson. And while Robinson’s accomplishments in breaking baseball’s color barrier should never be marginalized, there’s another legend that perhaps deserves more credit for how he changed the game.

On July 5, 1947, 11 weeks after Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larry Doby became the first black player in the American League, pinch-hitting for Cleveland Indians pitcher Bryan Stephens in the seventh inning of a game against the White Sox at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

Doby would go on to play 13 seasons and make seven All-Star teams. He won a World Series in 1948 and finished second to Yogi Berra in MVP voting in 1954, as the Indians won 111 regular-season games and clinched the AL pennant. Most importantly, he helped advance the game with class that most couldn’t muster in the face of all of the venom he encountered as he traveled with the Indians through the Rust Belt.

“I think in a lot of ways, he had it in much rougher fashion (than Robinson),” said Mike Veeck, whose father, Indians owner Bill Veeck, purchased Doby’s contract from the Newark Eagles of the Negro League.

“He had a high school education, and he wasn’t prepped for any of this; he was kind of dropped in the middle. I think the thing that people really identify with Larry is the tremendous sense of dignity about being No. 2. We all related to being No. 2, but we really can’t relate to being Jackie Robinson.”

Doby was once again second in line in 1978, when the Veeck-owned White Sox made him baseball’s second black manager, three years after another Robinson — this time Frank — became a player-manager with Doby’s old team in Cleveland.

“The ultimate irony,” Veeck said. “I don’t know that many people could have dealt with it. … Over the course of his career, as he watches all of these celebrations, he wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t some part of him saying, ‘I was along for the ride, too, fellas.’ But I never saw that from him, and I really admired that.”

In 1998, Doby finally received due validation for his accomplishments, when he was inducted to the Hall of Fame. And when he gave his speech before being enshrined in Cooperstown, the first person Doby thanked was his wife, Helen. The appreciation, Veeck says, was well-deserved.

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