Bobby Doerr

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Robert Pershing Doerr

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1986

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Biographical Information[edit]

"He is one of the few who played the game hard and retired with no enemies." - Tommy Henrich

Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr played fourteen years in the majors, with excellent range at second base and with good power for a middle infielder. He spent his entire big league career with the Boston Red Sox and was a nine-time All-Star, missing one season because of military service during World War II.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Doerr played American Legion ball as a youth, and his teammates included future big leaguers Mickey Owen and Steve Mesner. After playing two years of high school baseball at John C. Fremont High School, he began his pro career as a 16-year-old with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1934. After hitting .317 for the team in 1935, the Red Sox purchased an option on his contract, along with that of teammate George Myatt. The Stars moved to San Diego, CA and became the Padres in 1936, and he hit .342 and led the Pacific Coast League with 238 hits that year. That summer, his contract was purchased by Boston scout Eddie Collins, who also inked Ted Williams on the same scouting trip.

1938 Goudey

Doerr reached the majors in 1937 as the Red Sox's Opening Day second baseman. At 19, he is the youngest player in modern baseball history to be his team's lead-off hitter on Opening Day. He went 3-for-5 with a run scored in his big league debut against the Philadelphia Athletics on April 20th. However, through the end of May, he hit .229 with just 1 home run, and Eric McNair saw most of the playing time at second base for the remainder of the summer. Doerr ended his rookie year with a .224 average and 2 homers in 55 games. He again started for Boston on Opening Day 1938 and then remained the club's regular second baseman until the 1950s. After hitting .289 that year, he improved to .318 with 12 home runs in 1939. He clubbed 22 home runs and drove in 105 runs in 1940, and was selected to play in his first All-Star Game in 1941.

After two more All-Star seasons in 1942 and 1943, Doerr put together one of his finest seasons in 1944. Facing the St. Louis Browns on May 17th, he hit for the cycle. He led the American League with a .528 slugging percentage that year and finished second in the circuit with a .325 batting average. However, prior to the season, he had received his Army draft orders and was told to report at the beginning of September. At the time of his departure, the Red Sox were 2 1/2 games out of first place, but the club went 7-16 after he left to finish 12 games behind the pennant-winning Browns. Despite missing the last month of the season, he was named AL Player of the Year by The Sporting News; he also finished seventh in American League MVP voting.

"Doerr, and not Ted Williams, is the No. 1 player on the team. He rates the Most Valuable Player in the American League." - Babe Ruth on Doerr's 1946 season

Doerr missed the entire 1945 season while serving in the military and was discharged in December of that year. Back with Boston in 1946, he picked up where he left off, hitting .271 with 18 homers and 116 RBIs, finishing third in MVP voting behind teammate Ted Williams. The Red Sox won their first pennant since 1918, and he made the only postseason appearances of his career. In the World Series, he hit .409 with a Game 4 home run, but his club fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

Doerr and Johnny Pesky at Fenway Park's 100th anniversary, 2012

On May 13, 1947, Doerr hit for the cycle again, this time against the Chicago White Sox and became the only Red Sox player to accomplish the feat twice in his career. During the following season, he went 414 consecutive chances at second over 73 games without an error. On June 8, 1950, he hit 3 home runs in a game against the Browns, and he led the AL with 11 triples that year. However, the next season, he struggled with a bad back, which limited him to 106 games, and he retired at the end of the year, at age 33.

Doerr ended his career with a .288 batting average and 223 home runs. He was a much better hitter at Fenway Park, hitting .315 with 145 home runs at home during his career, versus .261 with 78 homers on the road. Defensively, he led AL second basemen in double plays 5 times, in putouts and fielding percentage 4 times each, and in assists 3 times. Through 2012, the most similar player to Doerr, according to the similarity scores method, is Tony Lazzeri; second is his teammate and double-play partner, Vern Stephens. His career is parallel to that of Joe DiMaggio: the two were born in California, starred in the PCL and then came to the majors one season apart; they both missed time during World War II, came back strong in the late 1940s, and then retired after the 1951 season. Both played their entire careers with one team and were elected to the Hall of Fame, although in Doerr's case, he had to wait quite a bit longer.

"Bobby Doerr was my mentor. When I was in the minors, I always seemed to improve when he came along. I had so much faith in him that if he told me I'd be a better hitter if I changed my shoelaces, I'd have done it." - Mike Andrews

Following his playing days, Doerr retired to his farm in Oregon for several years before scouting for the Red Sox from 1957 to 1966. When Dick Williams was named Boston manager in 1967, he joined the team's coaching staff, holding that job for three seasons. He was later was the first hitting coach of the expansion Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 to 1981. As of 2013, he still lived in Oregon and passed away there in 2017 at the age of 99. Upon the death of Lee MacPhail in 2012, Doerr became the oldest living Hall of Famer, a title he held until his passing. He also became the Oldest Living MLB Player in November of 2016, following the death of Eddie Carnett and was the last living player to have played in the 1930s.

Doerr was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1986, and his number (1) was retired by the Red Sox two years later.

Doerr's brother Hal Doerr played professionally as well.

"The sculpture is dedicated to the unique friendship of the four players, Williams, Doerr, Pesky and Dom DiMaggio. The kinship and long friendship of the four players was the inspiration for this work." - Sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez, about his sculpture at Fenway Park dedicated to the unusual closeness of friendship among the four players

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 9-time AL All-Star (1941-1944, 1946-1948, 1950 & 1951)
  • AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1944)
  • AL Triples Leader (1950)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1940, 1948 & 1950)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 6 (1940, 1942, 1946 & 1948-1950)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1950)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1986

Blue Jays Hitting Coaches
Previous Current Next
N/A Bobby Doerr Cito Gaston
1977 to 1981

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ian Browne: "Hall of Famer Doerr passes away at 99: Nine-time All-Star spent 14-year career with Red Sox",, November 14, 2017. [1]
  • David Halberstam: The Teammates, Hyperion, New York, NY, 2003. ISBN 978-1401300579
  • Bill Nowlin: "Bobby Doerr", in Bill Nowlin and Dan Desrochers, eds.: The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox: 'Pandemonium on the Field', SABR, Rounder Books, Burlington, MA, 2007, pp. 252-256. ISBN 978-1-5794-0141-2
  • Tom Schad: "Hall of Famer, Red Sox legend Bobby Doerr dies at 99", USA Today Sports, November 14, 2017. [2]

Related Sites[edit]