Red Sox legend and baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, the oldest living major leaguer, died Monday, 145 days short of his 100th birthday.
Doerr played 14 big league seasons, all of them with Boston, from 1937 to 1951, with a year out of baseball for military service.
“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.”
Across baseball, the people who knew Doerr best remembered him as “the silent captain,” as Ted Williams once called him. Doerr was a quiet man who expressed himself best through his accomplishments on the field. The Boston Globe‘s Bob Ryan aptly eulogizes Doerr as a flawless fielder, a dangerous hitter, but also a gentleman “immensely popular in his own clubhouse and universally respected throughout the league.”
You can read more about Doerr’s life just about everywhere today. As usual, RSNStats will focus on some of his remarkable achievements on the diamond. And when it comes to baseball, Doerr’s mark on the Red Sox record books is just about indelible.
- From his start at age 19, Doerr was an offensive force to be reckoned. To this day, he holds the club record for most hits (819) and doubles (159) before turning 25 years old. Until Andrew Benintendi in 2017, Doerr had held the record for being the youngest Sox player (23) to hit a home run in a season home opener.
- Doerr, Ted Williams, and Tony Conigliaro were the only Red Sox since 1920 with an RBI in four straight games before turning 21. Rafael Devers joined this very elite group with his own such streak in August 2017.
- Doerr’s 13 Opening Day starts at second base are the most in club history.
- Doerr played in 1,852 games at second base, the most in club history. Dustin Pedroia has the 2nd-most games (1,485). Doerr’s 4,928 putouts at 2B are the most, by far, in club history. Hobe Ferris (1901-09) has 2nd-most (2,410). Doerr’s .980 career fielding percentage at second base is 7th-best in club history.
- As a fielder, Doerr is also the club’s all-time leader at second base for assists (5,710) and double plays (1,507).
- Doerr’s 73 games at second base without an error (1948) is the club’s longest single-season record.
- Doerr’s nine times selected as an All-Star is 4th-most in club history after Williams (18), Carl Yastrzemski (18), and David Ortiz (10). He’s one of 13 Sox players to hit a home run in an All-Star Game.
- Doerr led the club for for runs (78), hits (163), doubles (32) and home runs (16) in 1943 then was the club leader for batting average (.325) in 1944.
- Doerr’s six 100+ RBI seasons are tied with Manny Ramírez and Jimmie Foxx for the 4th-most in Sox history.
- On June 16, 2015 Brock Holt joined Doerr as the only Sox second basemen to hit for the cycle. Doerr did it in 1944 and 1947, the only Boston player to do it twice.
- Doerr’s 145 career home runs at Fenway Park is 6th-most in club history. His six career game-ending home runs ties him with Jackie Jensen for 3rd-most ever by a Red Sox player.
- Doerr and Williams both hit home runs in 38 career games, making them the 3rd-most prolific HR hitters in Red Sox history. Only Dwight Evans and Jim Rice (56) and Ortiz and Ramírez (48) had more such games.
- Doerr’s 14 multi-home run games is 10th-most in club history.
- Doerr’s 69 extra-base hits in 1940 are the most-ever, by far, in a single season by a Red Sox second baseman before turning 24 years old. Pedroia’s 48 XBHs in 2007 ties Doerr’s 1941 output for 2nd place among such players.
- From July 5-16, 2011, Pedroia became the second Sox second baseman to hit 6 home runs in an 8-game span, matching Doerr’s streaks in both 1948 and 1950.
- In 2010, Pedroia hit three HR against the Rockies in Colorado. The only other Sox second baseman to do that was Doerr in 1950 against the St. Louis Browns.
Distinguished Life After Baseball
Robert Pershing Doerr was born in Los Angeles in 1918 and made his major league debut on April 20, 1937. His last game was September 7, 1951. Afterwards, Doerr coached for Sox (1967-69) and for the Blue Jays (1977-81). He was also named an Honorary Captain of the 1988 All-Star Game. Most notably, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.
In a ceremony at Fenway on May 21, 1988, the Red Sox retired Doerr’s No. 1 and then in 2010, the Red Sox unveiled a statue outside Fenway Park dedicated to Doerr and teammates and friends Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams. Coincidentally, I wrote a little about DiMaggio for SoxSphere the night before the news of Doerr’s passing.
“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.”