• BUCK­LEY ON DO­ERR,

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Dur­ing a re­turn visit to Bos­ton in May of 2005, Hall of Fame sec­ond base­man Bobby Do­err, 87 years old at the time, was asked to share the se­cret of his ro­bust health. “It all be­gins with a healthy frame of mind,” he said. “I have very good friends, a great faith in God, which is very im­por­tant to me, and a good sense of hu­mor. I’m just a happy per­son.”

Do­err’s dis­po­si­tion served him well and earned him count­less ad­mir­ers. A rugged player dur­ing his 14 sea­sons in the ma­jor leagues, all with the Red Sox, he was the un­of­fi­cial cap­tain of the 1946 pen­nant-win­ning team and for many years served the club as a scout and coach. In his only World Se­ries, which the Red Sox lost to the St. Louis Car­di­nals in seven games, Do­err hit .409.

His pop­u­lar­ity was won­der­fully re­newed late in life with the re­lease of “The Team­mates,” writ­ten by the late David Hal­ber­stam as an ode to the friend­ship that ex­isted be­tween

Do­err and fel- low Red Sox le­gends Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMag­gio and Ted Wil­liams. The book proved so pop­u­lar that a statue hon­or­ing the four play­ers was erected out­side Fen­way Park.

Robert Per­sh­ing “Bobby” Do­err, the last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of “The Team­mates” and the old­est liv­ing mem­ber of the Hall of Fame, died Mon­day at the age of 99. A na­tive of Los An­ge­les, Do­err passed away in Junc­tion City, Ore., where he had lived for many years.

“Bobby Do­err was part of an era of baseball giants and still stood out as one him­self,” Red Sox prin­ci­pal owner John Henry said in a state­ment yes­ter­day. “And even with his Hall of Fame achieve­ments at sec­ond base, his char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity out­shined it all. He will be missed.”

Such was Do­err’s link to the early days of baseball that he was the last sur­viv­ing player to have ap­peared in a game in the 1930s and the last to have com­peted against New York Yan­kees leg­end Lou Gehrig. On Open­ing Day in 1939, Do­err was 1-for-4 in the Red Sox’ 2-0 loss to the Yan­kees. Gehrig was 0-for-4. Gehrig, soon to be di­ag­nosed with amy­otrophic lat­eral sclero­sis, now known as Lou Gehrig’s Dis­ease, took him­self out of the Yan­kees lineup just a few weeks later, end­ing his iron man streak at 2,130 con­sec­u­tive games played.

When Do­err made his ma­jor league de­but April 20, 1937 against Philadel­phia, the Ath­let­ics man­ager was Con­nie Mack, who had been filling out lineup cards since 1894.

The dom­i­nant sec­ond base­man of his era both of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively, Do­err was an Amer­i­can League All-Star in nine of his 14 sea­sons. Listed at 5-foot-11, and 175 pounds, he was a pow­er­ful right-handed hit­ter who socked 223 ca­reer home runs and drove in 100 or more runs six times.

When he re­tired af­ter the 1951 sea­son, his 2,042 hits were the most in Red Sox his­tory. He still ranks in the top 10 among Red Sox play­ers in most ca­reer of­fen­sive cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing games, runs, hits, sin­gles, dou­bles, triples, home runs, RBI, walks, ex­tra-base hits, to­tal bases, and times on base.

But Do­err was equally proud of his de­fen­sive prow­ess. He held an Amer­i­can League record by field­ing 414 con­sec­u­tive chances with­out an er­ror, an achieve­ment proudly noted on his Hall of Fame plaque in Coop­er­stown. He was elected to the Hall in 1986, and two years later the Red Sox re­tired his uni­form No. 1.

Dur­ing the 1946 pen­nantwin­ning sea­son, Do­err had 18 home runs and 116 RBI, fin­ish­ing third in the Amer­i­can League Most Valu­able Player race be­hind Ted Wil­liams and Detroit Tigers pitcher Hal Ne­w­houser. An­other Red Sox team­mate, short­stop Johnny Pesky, fin­ished fourth.

Do­err’s re­la­tion­ship with Wil­liams, Pesky and DiMag­gio was the in­spi­ra­tion for Hal­ber­stam’s “The Team­mates: A Por­trait of a Friend­ship.” Though Do­err was a quiet, stoic in­di­vid­ual who pre­ferred re­tire­ment in Ore­gon to liv­ing in the big city, he nonethe­less made fre­quent trips to Fen­way Park, and in the af­ter­math of Hal­ber­stam’s book, he found his mail­box bulging each morn­ing with re­quests for au­to­graphs.

“And that’s very nice,” he said dur­ing a 2005 in­ter­view.

Writer, toast­mas­ter and poet Dick Flavin, who was close to the four play­ers and was a cen­tral char­ac­ter in “The Team­mates,” said, “Un­til that book came out, a lot of peo­ple didn’t un­der­stand what Bobby meant to Ted. Ted was like a wild an­i­mal. He never re­ally grew up. He never had any real par­ent­ing in his life. He never re­ally had a model to fol­low un­til he met Bobby, even though Bobby was only about five months older than Ted.

“Bobby had such a strong base from his own bring­ing up and was so com­fort­able in his own skin that he helped Ted through a lot in those early days. Bobby, par­tic­u­larly in those early days, saved Ted from him­self.”

Yet even tak­ing “The Team­mates” out of the dis­cus­sion, Do­err’s reach still spanned the gen­er­a­tions. More than 15 years af­ter his play­ing ca­reer ended, he was the first base coach in the Red Sox’ 1967 “Im­pos­si­ble Dream” pen­nant-win­ning sea­son.

Do­err spent count­less hours work­ing with pitcher Jim Lon­borg, a no­to­ri­ously weak hit­ter, to im­prove his bunt­ing skills. In the sixth in­ning of the fi­nal game of the sea­son, with the Red Sox trail­ing 2-0 against the Min­nesota Twins and need­ing a vic­tory to re­main in con­tention, Lon­borg be­gan a fiverun rally when he dropped a per­fect bunt down the third base line.

Do­err also worked with rookie sec­ond base­man Mike An­drews, just 23 years old when the 1967 sea­son be­gan.

“Bobby Do­err was my men­tor,” An­drews said. “When I was in the mi­nors, I al­ways seemed to im­prove when he came along. I had so much faith in him that if he told me I’d be a bet­ter hit­ter if I changed my shoelaces, I’d have done it.

“I can still hear him yelling, ‘Swing down on the ball.’ That was his phi­los­o­phy . . . . If you start down low, your swing will be more level and you’ll stay on the ball longer.”

Not all of Do­err’s pupils en­joyed long, suc­cess­ful baseball ca­reers. Some of them went on to en­joy long, suc­cess­ful bas­ket­ball ca­reers.

We re­fer, of course, to cur­rent Celtics pres­i­dent Danny Ainge. Though he would gain greater fame for his 14 sea­sons in the NBA, Ainge, a two-sport star at Brigham Young Univer­sity, played a few sea­sons as a third base­man for the Toronto Blue Jays be­fore be­ing wooed by Celtics boss Red Auer­bach. Ainge’s hit­ting coach in Toronto was Do­err.

“Bobby was the guy I’d talk with af­ter ev­ery at­bat,” said Ainge, who played for the Blue Jays from 1979 through 1981.

Do­err al­ways in­sisted that Ainge “... would have been a suc­cess as a baseball player. I guess he made the right de­ci­sion, given ev­ery­thing that hap­pened with the Celtics, but he had the tools to be a very good big league hit­ter.” Ainge isn’t so sure.

“I guess we’ll never know about that,” he said. “What I do know is that I learned more about baseball from Bobby than from any­one else.”

Ainge signed his first pro­fes­sional con­tract at Do­err’s home in Bend, Ore. Pat Gil­lick, Toronto’s di­rec­tor of baseball op­er­a­tions at the time, trav­eled to Ore­gon to sign the BYU star af­ter he had been se­lected in the 15th round of the 1977 am­a­teur draft, and every­one wound up at Do­err’s house.

“Danny signed the con­tract on the ta­ble in our liv­ing room,” Do­err re­called.

Born on April 7, 1918 in Los An­ge­les, Do­err was just 16 and still at­tend­ing Fre­mont High School when he broke in with the Hol­ly­wood Stars of the Pa­cific Coast League in 1934, hit­ting .259. He hit .317 the fol­low­ing sea­son, af­ter which his con­tract was pur­chased by the Red Sox. He re­mained in the PCL for the 1936 sea­son, hit­ting .342 for the San Diego Padres, at the time a Red Sox farm club.

He played in just 55 games for the Red Sox in 1937 as a 19-year-old rookie, hit­ting .224. In an odd quirk in Red Sox uni­form his­tory, Do­err ac­tu­ally wore No. 9 his first sea­son, but he switched to No. 1 in 1938. When Wil­liams de­buted with the team in 1939, he was is­sued No. 9.

Do­err was the Sox’ ev­ery­day sec­ond base­man through 1944 but then en­listed in the Army and missed the en­tire 1945 sea­son, serv­ing out the end of World War II at Camp Roberts in Cal­i­for­nia. He re­turned to the Red Sox lineup in 1946.

But be­yond baseball and the mil­i­tary, Do­err would al­ways tell you his great­est team­mate was his wife, Mon­ica.

Do­err met Mon­ica Rose­man Ter­pin, a teacher in a one-room school­house, dur­ing an off­sea­son fish­ing trip to Ore­gon. Ac­cord­ing to a 2005 As­so­ci­ated Press story, they met at a party and danced to the song “Chapel in the Moon­light.”

“That was the win­ter of ’36,” he said. “In 1938, we got mar­ried.”

As Mon­ica Do­err’s health de­clined in her later years be­cause of mul­ti­ple sclero­sis, Do­err re­mained at her side, du­ti­fully guid­ing her wheel­chair at home and at var­i­ous events. Trav­el­ing to a func­tion hosted by Bob Costas at the Florida-based Ted Wil­liams Mu­seum in 1995, Do­err wheeled Mon­ica into the room and saw to her com­fort be­fore tak­ing his seat on stage.

“It was never a big project,” Do­err said. “You could jerk her around in that chair, and she never made a fuss. She al­ways did good things for me, and I al­ways did good things for her.”

TEAM­MATES ONCE: From left, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMag­gio, man­ager Steve O’Neill and Ted Wil­liams wish Bobby Do­err (cen­ter) a happy re­tire­ment from baseball. ‘TEAM­MATES’ FOR­EVER: The four play­ers are im­moArP­taPHliOzTeOdS in a bronze sculp­ture out­side Fen­way Park.

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