Bobby Doerr: The Last Teammate

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Boston Red Sox Robert Doerr making play at 2nd base

Bobby Doerr, the oldest living MLB player and Hall of Fame member passed away on Monday. He was the last member of the legendary Teammates. Rick Rowand takes a look at his career.

Red Sox legend, and the last surviving member of The Teammates, second baseman Bobby Doerr, passed away Monday at the age of 99. He was the oldest living member of the Hall of Fame and the oldest living MLB player. His #1 is one of only ten Red Sox players to have their number retired by the team. 

Before joining the Sox in Boston in 1937, he was a teammate of Ted Williams on the San Diego Padres of the PCL. His contract was purchased by Boston in 1935, but as was the practice at the time, he remained with the PCL team until he became older and was needed on the MLB roster. It was in San Diego that he and Williams became lifelong friends. Along with Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky, they were known as The Teammates and the four were instrumental in bringing the American League pennant to Boston in 1946. Doerr hit  .271/.346/.453 for the season with 18 home runs, 95 runs scored and 116 runs batted in. During the World Series against the Cardinals, which the Sox lost in seven games, Doerr went .409/.458/.591 in 22 at-bats.

Doerr turned 19 in 1937 and made the major league roster out of Spring Training. He played in 55 games hitting .224/.313/.313, the lowest batting line of his career.  He was the starter in 1938 and went .289/.363/.397. His best season at the plate was in 1944. He hit .325/.399/.528 with 15 homers and a wOBA of .429. He was named the AL Player of the Year by The Sporting News. Doerr played a total of 14 seasons between 1937 and 1951, but like many players of his era, he joined the military during World War II and missed the month of September in 1944 and the entire 1945 season to serve in the Army.

Doerr retired after the 1951 season because of back problems that limited him to just 105 games. He was 33. Doerr had a reputation as an excellent fielder and led the AL in double plays by a second baseman five times. He finished his career having played in 1865 games. He had a lifetime batting line of .288/.362/.461 with 223 home runs and a wOBA of .380. In his 14 seasons, he was named to the All Star team nine times.

Upon his retirement, Doerr returned to Oregon. He rejoined the Red Sox organization as a scout, and later minor league hitting instructor, in 1957. He remained in those positions until 1967 when Dick Williams hired him to coach first base. He left the Red Sox when Williams was fired in 1969. His last position in baseball was as the Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach from 1977 to 1981.

Doerr was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 and his number was retired by the Red Sox in a ceremony at Fenway in 1988. He made his last appearance at Fenway Park in 2012 with fellow Teammate Johnny Pesky to help celebrate Fenway’s 100th anniversary.

Bobby Doerr is considered by many to be the greatest second baseman of all time and one of the best to ever play the game.

To find out more about Bobby Doerr the person and friend, you should read The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship by David Halberstam.

RIP

Rick Rowand has written about the young stars of the Boston Red Sox, put David Ortiz’s career in perspective, an explanation of Jonny Gomes’s success, and a break down of a huge signing.

Follow Rick on Twitter @rrowand

Featured image courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

*Stats courtesy of fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com

*Biographical information courtesy of Bill Nowlin and SABR

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