Baseball Hall of Fame member Lawrence Eugene “Larry” Doby celebrates his birthday this week.

Statue honoring Larry Doby

Statue honoring Larry Doby at Eastside Park in Paterson, New Jersey.

He was born on December 13, 1924 in Camden, South Carolina and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey.

You may realize that Doby was a baseball star in the Negro Leagues and became the first African American baseball player in the American League, where he as also an all time great.

But did you know that he also played college and professional basketball?

Doby attended Long Island University on a basketball scholarship in 1941, the year that L.I.U. went undefeated, and the same season that teammate William “Dolly” King quit the team mid-season to play professionally with the New York Rens.

Doby left the team as well, transferring to Virginia Union College.

He joined the Cleveland Indians in 1947.

In the winter following his rookie year in the Major Leagues, Doby became the first African American player in the American Basketball League.

He signed on December 30, 1947 and made his pro basketball debut in January of 1948.

Doby played 8 games with the Paterson Crescents during that 1947-48 season.

The Crescents eventually made it to the league championship finals, losing to the Wilkes-Barre Barons.

His love of basketball was well known — Doby was the Director of Community Relations for the New Jersey Nets during most the 1980s.