Bobby Doerr, Baseball Hall of Fame’s Oldest Member, Dies at 99

  • Teammate of Ted Williams on Boston Red Sox teams in the 1940s
  • An All Star second baseman, he played in the 1946 World Series

Bobby Doerr, a teammate of Ted Williams on Boston Red Sox teams of the 1940s who was the oldest living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, has died. He was 99.

He died Monday, the Red Sox announced Tuesday in a statement on the team’s website. He lived in Oregon.

Bobby Doerr in 2011.

Photographer: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

From 1937 to 1951, with one season lost to military service, Doerr excelled at hitting and defense at second base, once making 414 consecutive plays without committing an error. A nine-time All Star, he was a leader of the Red Sox team that advanced to the 1946 World Series, losing in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Sox retired his jersey number, 1, in 1988.

“When we played for the Red Sox, we didn’t have a captain, but Bobby was the silent captain,” Williams, widely considered the greatest Red Sox player, was quoted as saying by historian Herb Crehan in “Red Sox Heroes of Yesteryear” (2005). “He was the guy everybody likes, the guy everybody wants to be around. He was just an all-around great player.”

Williams, the last player to bat over .400, was on the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee when it voted to induct Doerr in 1986. “I didn’t have to do much lobbying for him,” Williams said, according to Crehan’s book. “Bobby did all the work on the field.”

Childhood Dream

In his induction speech, Doerr said: “Growing up I’d hoped that I could become a Major League ballplayer, then hoped I could play in an All-Star Game, then a World Series. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame today just tops off all of the nice things that ever happened to me in baseball.”

Robert Pershing Doerr was born April 7, 1918, in Los Angeles. While in high school, he was signed by the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. The team moved in 1936 to San Diego, where Doerr caught the attention of Boston’s general manager, Eddie Collins, who signed him for the 1937 big-league season. He became the starting second baseman in 1938, hitting .289 and knocking in 80 runs.

His three-run home run off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mort Cooper helped the American League win the 1943 All-Star game, 5 to 3.

Doerr in 1951

Source: Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images via Getty Images

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry Corps in September 1944, according to Crehan, and missed the 1945 season. He returned with a flourish in 1946, knocking in 116 runs for a Red Sox team that made it to a World Series for the first time since 1918. Though his team lost to the Cardinals, Doerr batted .409 in the seven-game series.

A back injury forced him to retire in 1951. He was a minor-league instructor, then a coach on the 1967 Red Sox team that won the American League pennant. He also was a coach with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 to 1981.

With his wife, Monica, who died in 2003, Doerr had a son, Don.

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