EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It probably was appropriate for Larry Doby that the call he was waiting for, the one that would make him the first black to play in the American League and the second to play in the major leagues, came on July 4, Independence Day.

On that day in 1947, Doby, victim of a separatist nation, was playing second base in the first game of a doubleheader for the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League.

He knew owner Bill Veeck of the American League's Cleveland Indians had sent scout Bill Killifer to look at him and that the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers had sent scout Al Campanis.

"But I heard Cleveland had the inside track on me," Doby remembers. "I learned later that Veeck and {Dodgers executive Branch} Rickey had gotten together and decided to have one black in each league. I also didn't know they had traced me all the way back to when I was born.

"They had talked to teachers, to the first guy who let me play baseball in Paterson {N.J.}, but they couldn't find anything wrong. They did the same thing with Jackie. There were better players than us, but I think they picked us to go first because we'd gone to college and they felt we could handle it."

(Several years later, however, Veeck said Doby may not have been the best choice. Although Doby endured prejudice as a youth in New Jersey, such as separate sections in movie theaters, it was never the virulent form he found in baseball, and that treatment embittered him, Veeck said.)

"A week's time came and Killifer came back and said the Indians were going into Chicago for a doubleheader and I should be there," Doby said. "So I played the first game in Newark, caught a train for Chicago and was in Veeck's office the next morning to sign the contract."

But it wouldn't be long after Doby signed his name that the trouble would begin -- in his own clubhouse, in opposing dugouts and in the stands.

And Doby, also baseball's second black manager when he took over the White Sox for half a season in 1978, would learn quickly that freedom and independence were shaky concepts in some businesses, such as baseball.

"We always heard that baseball was the all-American game," Doby says, "but it's really not."

Now 62, he is an executive with the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association. He changed sports after losing his managerial job with the White Sox and glimpsing little hope of getting another such job.

He is balding, a little thicker in the middle, but says he is content. He is community relations director for the Nets but still a baseball man at heart.

"Baseball wasn't the all-American game in 1947, because all Americans couldn't play," he says. "And it's still not the all-American game, because all Americans cannot work in most positions in baseball, even though they are qualified. There are no managers, few black coaches or executives.

"How they can keep saying it's hot dogs and apple pie and motherhood and all that, I don't know." Reaching Out, Withdrawing

Forty years ago, on the eve of Doby's American League debut, Veeck had lectured him, telling him that, despite what anyone might do or say, he was to have no response. He couldn't question an umpire, he had to stay in his room on the road and he had to eat by himself.

These restrictions didn't upset him too much then. For one thing, as he pointed out, "You don't think much about it when a guy's telling you. It's when it happens that you want to react."

Most of all, though, he simply was grateful to get a chance he never expected. "You never thought about playing in the majors, because there were no blacks," he said.

So he said he wasn't particularly alarmed by his teammates' greetings -- or lack of them -- before that July 5, 1947, doubleheader at Comiskey Park.

He remembers that Lou Boudreau, the Indians' player/manager, lined up all the players against their lockers. "He'd say, 'So-and-so, this is Larry Doby.' The guy would reach out and shake hands. Then he'd move down and say, 'So-and-so, this is Larry Doby,' but this guy would pull back his hand. Then another guy, no hand. Then again, no hand. Right away you knew you were in trouble.

"But it really didn't bother me. I feel, thank God He made me dumb in a way, because my attitude was always, 'The hell with you if you're going to be that way.' "

"He didn't complain," recalls Spud Goldstein, then the Indians' traveling secretary. "But you could always tell by looking at him he wasn't happy. He was moody quite a bit, and who could blame him?"

In his book, "Veeck -- As in Wreck," Veeck wrote: "Larry was not a man to shake off those slights and insults that easily. He was always very sensitive. If he wanted to dispute an umpire's call, he would back off and point to the back of his hand as if to say, 'You called that on me because I'm colored.' His inner turmoil was such a constant drain on him that he was never able to realize his full potential. Not to my mind, at any rate."

Indeed, that's how good Doby, a left-handed slugger, was. From 1950 to 1954, he may have been the American League's best all-around player. He excelled in center field and he could run. He led the league with 32 home runs in 1952 and again in '54 with the same number, and finished third in '53 with 29 homers. He was the RBI leader in 1954 with 126 and second in 1952 with 104. He was fourth in batting in 1950 (.326) and first in slugging percentage in 1952 (.541). His home run won the pivotal fourth game of the 1948 World Series, and he finished his 13-year career in 1959 with the White Sox -- Veeck was there then, too -- with a .283 lifetime batting average. Little Chance to Play

But that first season he played little. In his only start, at first base in the second game of that July 5 doubleheader, he went one for four. He batted only 32 times that season (he got four hits) and was unhappy about it.

Boudreau, now a Chicago Cubs broadcaster, said he didn't play Doby because he had an all-star infield and because he wanted to help Doby adapt to difficult conditions.

"I was very cautious in breaking him in because I didn't want him to lose confidence," Boudreau said. "It's not like he came along and people were going to be nice to him because he was the second black. It wasn't any easier for Larry."

In a way, Doby, as the second black player and manager, was like all those who follow the trailblazers: You don't get noticed much, but, when the branches swing back in your face, they still hurt as much. And, although Jackie Robinson had preceded him in the majors by three months, Robinson had blazed his trails in another league, in other cities.

"I guess Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington were the worst," Doby says.

"I'd get the usual -- 'nigger,' 'coon,' 'shoeshine boy.' I could understand from some fan or some jerk sitting on the bench. But I'd get it from managers, too. Like Casey {Stengel}. He'd call me a jigaboo.

"All game, he'd be yelling, 'Hey, jigaboo.' But you'd mention this to the writers and they'd say, 'No, not Casey.' "

Although he'd always been an infielder, Doby was told to learn to play the outfield after the 1947 season because he was not about to break into the infield of Boudreau, Joe Gordon, Ken Keltner and Eddie Robinson.

Moreover, he was slated for the minors in 1948. But he made the team during spring training and began playing some in right field. He struggled there, even being hit by a fly ball. But he learned so quickly that he ended the season as the team's center fielder and hit .301. He led the Indians with a .318 average in the World Series, which eased his burden.

None of the white players would room with him in 1947, but by 1948 Veeck had signed Satchel Paige. Still Doby would be alone.

"He roomed with Satch a while," Goldstein recalls, "but Satch carried a loaded gun on the road and left it on his night table when he slept. Larry said Satch told him it was for protection and anything that moved at night, Satch would get it. So Larry went back to staying by himself."Bound for Chicago

Doby had two stints with the White Sox, in 1956-57 (he led the '56 team in homers and RBI) and in 1959, just before his major league career ended. He and Don Newcombe played part of a season in Japan, becoming the first former major-leaguers to play there (and the first blacks, too). He scouted and coached for Montreal and Cleveland and joined the White Sox as batting instructor in 1977, the year of the "South Side Hit Men."

The next year, Bob Lemon's team, now minus its big home run hitters, Richie Zisk and Oscar Gamble, started slowly, going 34-40, and Doby was picked to replace Lemon on July 1, 1978.

Doby had been bitterly disappointed when Frank Robinson, in Cleveland, became the first black manager in 1975. Because it was Cleveland, Doby thought he would get the job. He was even more disappointed when the White Sox dismissed him at the end of the '78 season. The team played 37-50 under him.

Those '78 White Sox were a team Veeck said reminded him of his St. Louis Browns, of whom he once said he traded its players frequently in an effort to weaken the rest of the league. Three of the best players on the '78 White Sox -- Chet Lemon, Wayne Nordhagen and Alan Bannister -- missed much of the second half of the season with injuries and illness. But after Labor Day, the White Sox were 14-10.

"Getting fired was one of the saddest things that ever happened to me," said Doby, who believes the team's ownership group forced Veeck, the club president, to fire him.

"I think what hurt more than anything was that we started showing improvement. I was getting to like the job, thinking about what I was going to do the next season. I felt, 'Just give me a chance.' "

Some former players from that team say Doby was too inexperienced and in over his head as a manager. But one member of the ownership group insists Veeck made all the decisions on hiring and firing.

But Doby sees two principal reasons for his firing and for why there are no black managers in the major league: race and fraternity.

"It was the people with money in the club who made the decision," Doby says. "I remember Veeck calling me in. He said: 'First of all, we can't sit here because we'll both start crying. I have to replace you. I'm not putting the blame on anyone, but I don't have total control.' He got up and walked away and we never talked about it again.

"A lot of the {White Sox} owners were against it from the beginning. One once said to me that they couldn't have me as manager because what if I had to go in front of a corporate executive and sell tickets, that it would be strange for a black man to walk in to see an Iacocca.

"The other thing is that baseball is like a big fraternity. Sometimes it's just one of those things, not planned. A general manager or a manager goes to dinner. Maybe he doesn't take the black coach. Guys get to know guys.

"Then there are the guys who keep coming around, like {Gene} Mauch and {John} McNamara. They make sure that, when they're in one city, they get to the press room, talk baseball with the owner, so when one guy is fired their name comes up.

"When I got fired, I didn't think I'd get another chance unless I stayed around 10 years and started going around and all that. But no way in the world was I going to bow down and kiss. I would never do that to get a job.

"So when this job with the Nets came along, I felt, why not give it a try. I could be home at night, play some golf, put a loaf of bread on the table, even two loaves. It's okay. I like it."