“Bobby Doerr was an absolutely outstanding player. He was an exceptional second baseman, he rarely booted ground balls, he was a good clutch hitter and a good all-around hitter who could bat third, fourth or fifth in a lineup of good hitters. We never had a captain, but he was the silent captain of the team.” – Ted Williams
Bobby Doerr was the second baseman for the Boston Red Sox from 1937-1951. He and teammate Ted Williams were both scouted on the same trip by Eddie Collins from the 1936 San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League.
Named to nine All-Star Games, Doerr was steady, consistent, and showed leadership on and off the field. Defensively, he led the AL in fielding percentage four times and in double plays five times. He once held the AL record for most consecutive chances at second base without an error: 414.
“I never saw him misplay a ball, and he had the best backhand of any second baseman I ever saw,” said Red Sox teammate Johnny Pesky.
Offensively, Doerr hit .288 for his career, with 2,042 hits, 381 doubles, 89 triples, and 223 home runs, which at the time of his retirement, was the third highest total ever amassed by a second baseman. He racked up 1,094 runs scored and 1,247 runs batted in.
He missed the 1945 season in order to serve in the military, but returned to lead the team to the 1946 pennant with 18 home runs and 116 runs batted in. He hit .409 and drove in three runs in the World Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
He retired in his early 30s due to back problems. He scouted for the Red Sox from 1957-66, and coached there from 1967-69. He served as the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977-81. In 1969, Red Sox fans voted him the team’s all-time best second baseman.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986.
An all around gentleman with a great reputation in the game, New York Yankees rival Tommy Henrich said: “Bobby Doerr is one of the very few who played the game hard and retired with no enemies.”
Doerr passed away on Nov. 13, 2017.