Another dandy by Jerry Izenberg; It’s on the first Black in the American League, Larry Doby


Fred Sternburg, a distinguished sports public relations executive, who has done tons of work through the years. He released this late last week.


It’s been said that Jerry Izenbergthe legendary sports columnist, has always been on the right side of history.  It certainly seems true with his new book, about baseball Hall of Famer Larry Doby and the role Doby accepted to begin the integration of the American League. 


Larry played for Cleveland a few short weeks after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier as a member of the National League’s Brooklyn Dodgers at the start of the 1947 season. It is for this and his lifetime of achievements, in baseball, American history, and culture, that in December 2023, Doby was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award that is given in the United States.  Now, in the 70th anniversary year of Doby leading his Cleveland team to an American League record 111 victories (in a 154-game season) and their second World Series in a six-year span (breaking the Yankees five-year stranglehold on the American League pennant), comes Izenberg’s new book, his 15th, Larry Doby in Black And  White: The Story of a Baseball Pioneer (Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.) which will be released nationally  this Tuesday, May 14.  It will be available at most major retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Izenberg, the nonagenarian author, in the 74th year of his Hall of Fame newspaper career, looks back on Doby’s life and baseball career through in-depth research, numerous one-on-one interviews, personal accounts, and his close friendship with Doby that lasted more than three decades, ending with Jerry giving a moving and heartfelt eulogy at Doby’s funeral. Larry was 79 when he passed in June, 2003.


Doby and Robinson faced similar obstacles during that 1947 season and neither thought of quitting.  However, their circumstances couldn’t have been more different, not only because they played in different leagues and had different preparation for their respective entries into Major League Baseball, but the welcome they received from respective teams. 


Team executives Branch Rickey of the Dodgers and Bill Veeck of the Indians were polar opposites in terms of the level of respect they showed to the Negro League team owners (or lack of respect in Rickey’s case) when negotiating the purchases of their player contracts.


While Robinson was the first to break baseball’s color barrier, Doby played second fiddle to no one.  A nine-time All-Star, a World Series champion in his second season (he and teammate Satchel Paige were the first Black players to win a World Series ring), a home run and batting champion, and an outstanding fielder, Doby led his Cleveland team to the only two American League pennants not won by the Yankees during the 1948-1954 span.    


“I wrote this book for four reasons,” Izenberg said.  “First, I didn’t want the story of Larry’s lonely battle to be allowed to slip through the cracks, where it could head toward oblivion.  Second, I still miss Larry.  Third, our mutual friend, the late Monte Irvin, Larry’s infield teammate on the Newark Eagles and in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, convinced me I needed to do it.  And fourth, in 2020, Doby’s son, Larry Jr., told me ‘My dad had a hard life.  I know that he didn’t trust many people, but he trusted you.  If you are going to write a book, I’ll give you any help I can.  Just ask.’  Why did I wait so long?  Maybe I needed to gather the courage to finally say goodbye.”


Jerry Izenberg has been a popular sportswriter for seven decades. He’s been known especially in NY and NJ.

Now living in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife Aileen, Izenberg, 93, is still producing topical sports columns and social commentary on a regular basis as columnist emeritus at the New Jersey Star-Ledger and 


Milestones are nothing new for this Newark native.  He is one of only two daily newspaper columnists to have covered the first 53 Super Bowls, not to mention 54 consecutive Kentucky Derby races and the last five Triple Crown-winning horses.  And no one has covered more of Muhammad Ali’s fights than he, dating back to the 1960 Olympics.   

                                                                                                                    The  recipient of the Red Smith Award, which is bestowed annually by the Associated Press Sports Editors to a writer or editor who has made major contributions to sports journalism, Izenberg is also a five-time winner of the New Jersey Sportswriter of the Year Award.  He is an inductee in 18 Halls of Fame, including the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the International Boxing Hall of Fame, the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Closer to home, Izenberg has been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame, the Rutgers-Newark Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Rutgers Hall of Fame of Distinguished Alumni.  


Best-selling books he has authored include, Baseball, Nazis & Nedick’s Hot Dogs: Growing Up Jewish in the 1930s in Newark, Once There Were Giants: The Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing, No Medals For Trying, and Rozelle: A Biography.  In 2020, at age 90, he released his first novel, the well-received After the Fire: Love and Hate in the Ashes of 1967.  Said Izenberg, “You can’t put off working on your bucket list forever!”   


Perhaps nearest and dearest to Jerry’s heart was the pet project he founded, Newark Project Pride, which promoted an annual college football game during its 29 years and raised the funds to send 1,100 local kids to college. 



David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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