Larry Doby, the first black to play ball in the American League, yesterday became the game's second black manager when Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck named him to replace Bob Lemon.
The dismissal of Lemon was part of a Sox shakeup that also included the firing of pitching coach Stan Williams. He was replaced by Bruce Del Canton.
"Let me emphasize this was an amicable and mutual decisions." Veeck said in a telephone interview minutes after the shuffle was announced in Chicago. "But we felt the club was not making any real progress and that maybe we could stir things up a little . . ." The team was in fifth place in the American League West going into last night's action.
Doby was Lemon's choice for a replacement, Veeck said.
"I was surprised and somewhat saddened to a certain degree." said Doby. "Bob and I have been friends since1947."
They were teammates on the Cleveland Indians in the 1940s and 1950s.
"Although it's a happy moment for me, it's still not as happy as you would like for it to be," he said. "We had a long talk today and, of course, the first thing he said to me was, "Don't feel that way, because we're still friends and these things happen in baseball.' If I'm around long enough, it will happen to me."
The first black major league manager was Frank Robinson, who managed the Cleveland Indians in 1975 and 1976 before he was fired in 1977.
Doby was the first black player in the American League (Jackie Robinson preceded him in the National) and has been the White Sox batting coach since last year.
Del Canton, an 11-year pitching veteran of both leagues, has been acting as player-coach of the White Sox Iowa farm team in the American Association.
Veeck said Lemon's firing "isn't" a commentary on his managing" and the Hall of Fame pitcher will remain with the organization as a West Coast scout.
Doby, an outfielder, played from 1947 to 1959. He signed his first major league contract with Veeck when Veeck was president of the Cleveland Indians.
When Doby quit as a player in 1959, he had played on six consecutive ALL-Star teams and in two World Series.