BOSTON, MA -- Bobby Doerr, regarded as the greatest second baseman in Boston Red Sox history, passed away yesterday at 99 years old in Junction City, OR.Born on April 7, 1918 in Los Angeles, Doerr was the oldest living major league player prior to his passing. He is the only
BOSTON, MA -- Bobby Doerr, regarded as the greatest second baseman in Boston Red Sox history, passed away yesterday at 99 years old in Junction City, OR.
Born on April 7, 1918 in Los Angeles, Doerr was the oldest living major league player prior to his passing. He is the only member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame to live to be 99 years old.
Doerr played each of his 14 seasons with Boston (1937-44, 1946-51) before retiring at age 33 due to a back injury. He also served as a scout for the Red Sox from 1957-66, as well as a first base coach and hitting instructor from 1967-69. Following his career with the Red Sox, Doerr was the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in the franchise's first five years of existence (1977-81).
After he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 by the Veterans Committee, Doerr's uniform number (1) was retired by the Red Sox in 1988. He was inducted into the inaugural Red Sox Hall of Fame class in 1995.
"Bobby Doerr was part of an era of baseball giants and still stood out as one himself," said Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry. "And even with his Hall of Fame achievements at second base, his character and personality outshined it all. He will be missed."
"Bobby's life is one we salute not only for its longevity, but for its grace," said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. "He set the standard for what it means to be a good teammate through abiding friendships with Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio, all while realizing legendary status on the diamond. He touched us all with his class and dignity, and will remain an example and an inspiration for generations of players to come."
"There is something fitting about Bobby Doerr becoming the patriarch of baseball, outliving all of those he played with and against," said Red Sox President/CEO Sam Kennedy. "Bobby was a special player, to be sure, a Hall of Famer, but he also commanded universal respect from all those fortunate enough to have crossed his path. We celebrated his return every time he came back to us here at Fenway Park, and we now mourn his passing, grateful for the wonderful memories he left."
Doerr began his Red Sox career in 1937 at only 19 years old. After missing the 1945 season due to military service, he led the 1946 club to the AL pennant with 18 home runs and 116 RBI. In his only World Series appearance, he batted .409 (9-for-22) with a home run and three RBI.
For his career, Doerr batted .288 with 2,042 hits, 381 doubles, 89 triples, and 223 home runs, which at the time of his retirement was the third-highest home run total amassed by a second baseman. He still ranks in the top 10 among Red Sox players all-time in most offensive categories, including games, runs, hits, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, walks, extra-base hits, total bases, and times on base.
Doerr drove in at least 100 runs six times, the last in 1950; it would take 26 years for another second baseman to record 100 RBI (Joe Morgan in 1976). He was named The Sporting News' AL Player of the Year in 1944, a season in which he led the league in slugging percentage (.528). He is the only Red Sox player to have hit for the cycle twice, having accomplished the feat on May 13, 1947 against the White Sox and on May 17, 1944 in the second game of a double-header against the St. Louis Browns.
Defensively, Doerr led AL second basemen in fielding percentage six times and in double plays five times. He once held the AL record for most consecutive chances at second base without an error (414). In 1969 and again in 1982, Red Sox fans voted him the team's all-time best second baseman. He has played in more games at the position (1,852) than any other player in Red Sox history, and his 223 home runs still rank first all-time among Boston second basemen.
Doerr's nine All-Star Game selections rank fourth in Red Sox history behind only Ted Williams (18), Carl Yastrzemski (18), and David Ortiz (10), while his five starts in the Midsummer Classic are tied for sixth-most. Doerr hit a three-run home run off Mort Cooper of the Cardinals in the second inning of the 1943 All-Star Game in Philadelphia's Shibe Park, the deciding hit in a 5-3 American League win. He also served as an honorary captain during the 1988 All-Star Game.
Doerr had been the last living Red Sox player immortalized in the bronze "Teammates" statue erected outside of Fenway Park in 2010. The four players depicted - Dom DiMaggio, Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams - were all teammates on the Red Sox of the 1940s and parts of the 30s and 50s, with Doerr the first to put on a Red Sox uniform. Their bond was depicted in David Halberstam's 2003 book The Teammates: Portrait of a Friendship, and all four were inducted into the inaugural class of Red Sox Hall of Famers in 1995.
Ted Williams once said in reference to Doerr: "We never had a captain, but he was the silent captain of the team."
Doerr is survived by his son, Don, and Don's wife, Wendy Dame; his grandson, Brad, and Brad's wife, Jennifer; his granddaughter, Mischel Lowenberg, and her husband, Jason; and his great-grandchildren, Jackson, William, Allison, and Reese. The family asks that any donations be made to one of the following organizations:
Junction City Retirement and Assisted Living Community 500 East 6th Ave. Junction City, OR 97448
PeaceHealth Hospice Care 677 East 12th Ave., Suite N-110 Eugene, OR 97401