Bobby Doerr

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Bobby Doerr
Bobby Doerr 1950 Bowman.jpg
Second baseman
Born: (1918-04-07) April 7, 1918 (age 96)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 20, 1937 for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 7, 1951 for the Boston Red Sox
Career statistics
Batting average .288
Home runs 223
Runs batted in 1,247
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Induction 1986
Election Method Veterans Committee

Robert Pershing "Bobby" Doerr (born April 7, 1918) is a former Major League Baseball second baseman and coach. He played his entire 14-year baseball career for the Boston Red Sox (1937–1951). Doerr achieved a batting average over .300 in several seasons. He set Red Sox team records in several statistical categories. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.

Early life[edit]

Doerr was born the son of Harold Doerr, a telephone company supervisor, and his wife, the former Frances Herrnberger; his middle name was a tribute to General John J. Pershing, then the commander of U.S. military forces in World War I.[1] He graduated from Los Angeles' Fremont High School in 1936, after having already begun his professional career with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1934.

Major league playing career[edit]

Doerr broke into the majors in 1937 at the age of 19 and went 3 for 5 in his first game. In 1938 he became a regular in a powerful Red Sox lineup that included Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, and Dom DiMaggio. Early in his career Doerr was often called upon to bunt and was so proficient at it that he led the league with 22 sacrifice hits in 1938. In 1939, Ted Williams' rookie season with the Sox, Doerr began a string of 12 consecutive seasons with 10 or more home runs and 73 or more runs batted in; in 1940 the Red Sox became the 12th team in major league history to have four players with 100 RBI, with Foxx, Williams, Cronin and Doerr each collecting at least 105.

In 1944 Doerr led the league in slugging percentage. The same year, his .325 batting average was good enough to allow him to finish second in the league, two percentage points behind Lou Boudreau of the Cleveland Indians. He was named the AL's Most Valuable Player by The Sporting News, although he finished only seventh in voting for the AL MVP Award, being named on only 13 of 24 ballots and receiving nothing higher than a third-place vote. Doerr hit for the cycle twice in his career, on May 17, 1944 in a 12–18 loss to the St. Louis Browns in the second game of a doubleheader, and again on May 13, 1947 in a 19–16 win over the Chicago White Sox. In 1950 he led the league in triples with 11; on June 8 of that year, he hit three home runs in a 29–4 romp over the Browns.

Doerr missed the 1945 season while serving in the Army during World War II, being stationed at Camp Roberts, California. In 1946, Doerr finished third in the MVP vote (won by Williams) as Boston won their first pennant since 1918. Doerr drove in 116 runs despite a .271 average. He hit .409 in the 1946 World Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, with a home run and three runs batted in. Williams referred to Doerr as "the silent captain of the Red Sox."[2]

Regarded as one of the top defensive second basemen of his era, with observers divided between him and Joe Gordon of the rival New York Yankees, Doerr set an American League record in 1948 by handling 414 chances in a row over 73 games without an error. He led American League (AL) second basemen in double plays five times, tying a league record, in putouts and fielding percentage four times each, and in assists three times. He held the major league record for career double plays at second base (1,507) until Nellie Fox surpassed his mark in 1963, and his career fielding percentage (.980) was a major league record until Red Schoendienst passed him in 1953; Fox broke his AL mark in 1956. Doerr also ended his career ranking fifth in career games (1,852), putouts (4,928) and total chances (10,852) at second base, and sixth in assists (5,710).

Doerr batted over .300 three times, with six seasons of at least 100 runs batted in. Never playing a game at a position other than second base, he retired in September 1951 due to a back injury, having 8,028 plate appearances, 1,094 runs, 89 triples, 809 walks, 1,349 singles, 1,184 runs created, 693 extra base hits, 2,862 times on base, 115 sacrifice hits and nine All-Star Game selections. At Fenway Park, he hit .315 with 145 home runs, compared to a .261 average and 78 HRs on the road.

He set Red Sox records for career games (1,865), at bats (7,093), hits (2,042), doubles (381), total bases (3,270) and runs batted in (1,247),[3] all of which were later broken by his longtime teammate Ted Williams. His 223 home runs were then the third most by a major league second baseman, with his 1,247 RBI ranking fifth in Red Sox history.

Later achievements and honors[edit]

Doerr became a scout for the Red Sox from 1957 to 1966, then was the team's first base coach from 1967 to 1969, including the 1967 World Series loss to the Cardinals, Boston's first pennant since 1946. As Boston's unofficial batting instructor during 1967, Doerr worked with Carl Yastrzemski to convert the seven-year veteran from an opposite-field "doubles" hitter who had never before hit more than 20 homers in a season to a pull-hitting slugger who belted 44 home runs and won the Triple Crown and AL Most Valuable Player award that season. Doerr resigned from the Red Sox when Dick Williams was fired as manager in September 1969, but later became the hitting coach for the expansion Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 to 1981.

Bosret1.svg
Bobby Doerr's number 1 was retired by the Boston Red Sox in 1988.

Doerr was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986. He has lived in Oregon since the late 1930s, residing in the vicinity of Agness for much of his career before relocating to Junction City in the 1950s. His jersey number 1 was retired by the Red Sox on May 21, 1988. Since then, Doerr has lived a relatively quiet lifestyle at his Junction City home. He makes annual trips to the Hall of Fame induction at Cooperstown, New York, and when home, regularly fishes large game fish. Doerr married Monica Terpin on October 24, 1938, and they had one son; the union lasted 65 years until she died at age 88 on December 17, 2003 after suffering a number of strokes.

On July 29, 2007, the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Doerr after the induction of Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn into the Hall. On August 2, 2007, the Red Sox held "Bobby Doerr Day" at Fenway Park where he rode along the warning track in a car, threw out the first pitch, and gave a speech.

Upon the death of former New York Yankees executive and American League president Lee MacPhail in November 2012, Doerr became the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Doerr is also the last man alive who played in the major leagues during the 1930s.

Doerr had what was characterized as a minor stroke on August 11, 2011.[4] He attended the Fenway Park 100th anniversary celebration on April 20, 2012, being the oldest person in attendance.

Doerr (left) alongside Johnny Pesky at Fenway Park's 100th anniversary in 2012.

Awards[edit]

  • Named AL Player of the Year by The Sporting News (1944)
  • Named second baseman on The Sporting News Major League All-Star Team (1944 and 1946)
  • Had his number retired by Boston Red Sox on May 21, 1988.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Halberstam, David (2003). The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship. New York: Hyperion. p. 3. ISBN 1-4013-0057-X. 
  2. ^ "The National Baseball Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2007-02-03.
  3. ^ Doerr ended his career in 1951 with 1,247 RBI, but had been passed earlier that year by Williams.
  4. ^ "Fenway Park hits 100 years as Red Sox’s legend Bobby Doerr returns home". HULIQ. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Pete Runnels
Boston Red Sox first-base coach
1967–1969
Succeeded by
Don Lenhardt