GOODBYE TO SOX GREAT
Bobby was the ‘silent captain’ of ‘The Teammates’
And so, with the death of Bobby Doerr Monday at 99 in his beloved Oregon, the door formally closed on an epic chapter of Red Sox history, immortalized outside Gate B at Fenway Park by a stunning bronze statue that introduces new generations of fans to “The Teammates.”
Bobby, who was the oldest living ex-major leaguer, might have been the least known of the four Teammates around here because as soon as he hung ’em up in 1951 he headed back to those rivers and woods he loved, fishing for steelhead in the Rogue River, far from a limelight he never sought.
Shortstop Johnny Pesky? He was everyone’s grandfather. Center fielder Dom DiMaggio, who Boston diehards insisted was “better than his brother Joe?” He would achieve great business success here.
And Ted Williams was Ted.
What more need- ed to be said?
But second baseman Doerr was, in Ted’s words, “our silent captain,” the solid rock upon which the franchise prospered in the glory days surrounding World War II.
In a Rose Garden ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of his .406 season, Ted spoke for them all when he told George H.W. Bush, “Mr. President, I’ve always known what a lucky guy I am. I was born an American, I served my country and I got to play baseball.”
And, oh, how these four played it together.
“Bobby was so smooth, especially on the double play,” Walpole’s Joe Morgan, 86, a former Sox manager, recalled. “It looked so easy for him. But more than that, the first thing that comes to my mind about him is that he was one of the nicest guys I ever met in baseball.”
No slouch with the bat, Doerr, a Hall of Famer and seven-time All-Star, had six 100-RBI seasons and a .288 career batting average.
“He was a quiet guy,” Morgan said, “but he loved to get Ted going, which didn’t take long. He’d say, ‘You know, Ted, you’ve gotta swing down a little on those high balls,’ and Ted would go out of his mind, yelling about ‘uppercuts’ while Bobby stood there laughing.
“Hey, they were all hitters, so no wonder they were a happy bunch.”
When Bobby, then 87, came back here for a brief visit a dozen years ago, looking tanned and terrific, someone asked him for the secret to such robust health.
“I have very good friends, great faith in God and a good sense of humor,” he replied. “I’m just a happy person.”
Indeed he was, and a classy one, too.
The statue says that “to Red Sox fans the world over, they are simply known as Bobby, Ted, Dom and Johnny.”
With apologies to Notre Dame and Grantland Rice, they were our Four Horsemen, destined to live forever in Red Sox lore.
Goodbye, Mr. Doerr, and
IN MEMORY: Trevor Lane of Boston, above, places flowers at the foot of a statue of Hall of Fame Boston Red Sox player Bobby Doerr, outside Fenway Park yesterday. Doerr died Monday at 99. Other statues depict Red Sox players Ted Williams, left, Johnny Pesky, second from right, and Dom DiMaggio, right. At left, Williams, left, and Doerr, right, made up half of ‘The Teammates.’
BOSTON REPRESENTED: Boston Red Sox second baseman Bobby Doerr, top, poses during the 1946 season and works kitchen duty while training for the Army. Past and present Boston Red Sox legends, above from left, Jason Varitek, Johnny Pesky, David Ortiz, Tim Wakefield and Doerr wave to the crowd before the Fenway Park 100th anniversary baseball game in 2012.