Do­err, Red Sox great, Wil­liams team­mate, dies at 99

Was old­est liv­ing mem­ber of Base­ball Hall of Fame

The Star Democrat - - SPORTS -

(WPNS) — Bobby Do­err, an all-star sec­ond base­man who was the old­est liv­ing mem­ber of the Na­tional Base­ball Hall of Fame and who, with his friend and team­mate Ted Wil­liams, helped make the Bos­ton Red Sox of the 1940s peren­nial ri­vals of the New York Yan­kees, died Nov. 13 in Junc­tion City, Ore­gon. He was 99.

The team an­nounced the death but did not of­fer fur­ther de­tails.

Dur­ing most of his years with the Red Sox, from 1937 to 1951, Do­err starred along­side his close friend and fel­low Cal­i­for­nian, the bom­bas­tic, foul-mouthed but im­mensely tal­ented Wil­liams. To­gether, they helped re­store lus­ter to a team that had lit­tle suc­cess since win­ning the World Se­ries in 1918.

Au­thor Robert W. Cohen in­cluded Wil­liams and Do­err in his book “The 50 Most Dy­namic Duos in Sports His­tory,” cred­it­ing them with lift­ing a mori­bund fran­chise.

“They helped trans­form the Red Sox into peren­nial con­tenders dur­ing that time,” Cohen wrote in his book “mak­ing Bos­ton the most se­ri­ous chal­lengers to the Yan­kees for supremacy in the Ju­nior Cir­cuit and pro­vid­ing much of the ini­tial spark for a ri­valry that even­tu­ally be­came the most in­tense in all of pro­fes­sional team sports.”

If Wil­liams alien­ated fans, writ­ers and friends dur­ing his Red Sox ca- reer, Do­err was the gen­tle­manly op­po­site. Wil­liams nick­named him the team’s “si­lent cap­tain.”

He was de­scribed by Tommy Hen­rich, a Yan­kees out­fielder whose ca­reer over­lapped with Do­err’s, as one of the few men who played the game hard but left with­out a sin­gle en­emy.

Do­err and Wil­liams ar­gued good-na­turedly about hit­ting. Wil­liams, one of the best hit­ters in base­ball his­tory, could not un­der­stand why Do­err wasn’t as ob­ses­sive about the in­tri­ca­cies of hit­ting as he was. He of­ten cas­ti­gated Do­err for not be­ing able to tell whether a pitch was a curve­ball, slider or fast­ball.

“Even when he did know, he would tell Wil­liams that he didn’t, to in­fu­ri­ate him,” au­thor David Hal­ber­stam wrote in “Sum­mer of ‘ 49,” a book about the Amer­i­can League pen­nant race that year.

“Do­err was eas­ily the most pop­u­lar mem­ber of the Red Sox and pos­si­bly the most pop­u­lar base­ball player of his era,” Hal­ber­stam wrote. “He was so mod­est and his dis­po­si­tion so gen­tle that his col­leagues of­ten de­scribed him as ‘ sweet.’ He was the kind of man other men might have en­vied had they not liked him so much.”

In the fi­nal two games of the 1949 sea­son, both against the Yan­kees, Do­err had four hits and three runs bat­ted in. But New York won both games to claim the Amer­i­can League ti­tle, then went on to de­feat the Brook­lyn Dodgers in the World Se­ries.

Three years ear­lier, Do­err starred in his only ap­pear­ance in the World Se­ries, tal­ly­ing a home run and a .409 av­er­age as the Red Sox fell to the St. Louis Car­di­nals in seven games. His sec­ond­base coun­ter­part in the 1946 World Se­ries, Red Schoen­di­enst, is the now old­est liv­ing mem­ber of the Base­ball Hall of Fame.

Through­out his 14-year ca­reer, Do­err was per­haps the most sure-handed de­fen­sive sec­ond base­man of his era. His life­time field­ing per­cent­age of .980 was the best at his po­si­tion when he re­tired in 1951.

He was also an ex­cel­lent hit­ter, with a ca­reer av­er­age of .288 and 223 home runs. He drove in at least 100 runs in a sea­son six times, with a ca­reer high of 120 in 1950.

Robert Per­sh­ing Do­err was born in Los An­ge­les on April 7, 1918. His fa­ther worked for the lo­cal tele­phone com­pany.

Dur­ing the De­pres­sion,

“there was al­ways ex­tra food on the ta­ble, which made it a mag­net for other boys Bobby’s age whose fa­thers in those dif­fi­cult years were less for­tu­nate,” Hal­ber­stam wrote in “The Team­mates,” a book about the decades­long friend­ship be­tween Do­err and his fel­low Red Sox stars Wil­liams, Dom DiMag­gio and Johnny Pesky.

Do­err was a su­pe­rior base­ball player from a young age. He be­came a pro­fes­sional in 1934, when he was just 16 and signed with the Hol­ly­wood Sheiks, also known as the Stars, of the Pa­cific Coast League. He had to drop out of high school to play, but he up­held the prom­ise he made to his fa­ther that he would get his diploma.

Af­ter the 1935 sea­son, the Stars moved to San Diego and be­came the mi­nor league Padres. One of Do­err’s team­mates was Wil­liams, a San Diego na­tive, and the two en­joyed a friend­ship that lasted un­til Wil­liams died in 2002.

Do­err de­buted with Bos­ton on April 20, 1937, a few weeks af­ter his 19th birth­day. Wil­liams joined the Red Sox two years later.

In 1941, Do­err was named to the first of nine all-star teams. He missed the fi­nal two weeks of the 1944 sea­son and all of 1945 when he was in the Army. He re­tired from base­ball at age 33 be­cause of a back in­jury.

Dur­ing the off­sea­sons and in re­tire­ment, Do­err lived in Ore­gon in a home so re­mote he ini­tially had to pad­dle a ca­noe sev­eral miles to get to the post of­fice. He owned a mink farm and a cat­tle ranch for a time.

As a scout and rov­ing mi­nor league coach for the Red Sox from 1957 to 1966, he helped mold the ca­reer of Mike An­drews, the Red Sox sec­ond base­man of the late 1960s. “I had so much faith in him that if he told me I’d be a bet­ter hit­ter if I changed my shoelaces,” An­drews told the Bos­ton Her­ald, “I’d have done it.”

From 1967 to 1969, Do­err was first-base coach for the Red Sox un­der man­ager Dick Wil­liams. He later served as hit­ting coach of the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 to 1981.

Do­err loved to tell the story of the courtship of his wife, the for­mer Mon­ica Rose Ter­pin, a teacher in a one-room school­house in

ru­ral Ore­gon. One evening in 1936, they sat in a boat as it took them to a party. The seats were icy, so she took off her coat and laid it down so he could sit on it. He fell in love with her in that mo­ment. They mar­ried in 1938.

Do­err spent the lat­ter part of his life car­ing for his wife, who had mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. She died in 2003. Sur­vivors in­clude a son, Don Do­err, who pitched in the mi­nor leagues.

Do­err never re­ceived more than 25 per­cent of the vote of the Base­ball Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, which elects play­ers to the Hall of Fame. A vet­er­ans com­mit­tee named him to the hall in 1986, 35 years af­ter he played his fi­nal game. The Red Sox re­tired his No. 1 in 1988.

On June 18, 2015, Do­err turned 97 years and 72 days old, which made him the old­est base­ball Hall of Famer ever, sur­pass­ing Al Lopez, a

for­mer player and man­ager.

Do­err played dur­ing a Red Sox era that came to be known as “The Curse of the Bam­bino,” in which the Red Sox did not win a World Se­ries ti­tle for an 86year stretch from 1918 to 2004. The so-called curse re­ferred to the de­ci­sion of Red Sox owner Harry Frazee to sell Babe Ruth, who was nick­named the Bam­bino, to the Yan­kees af­ter the 1919 sea­son.

Do­err scoffed at the no­tion of a curse.

“That’s a bunch of baloney,” he told the writer Ed At­tana­sio of a base­ball his­tory web­site called This Great Game. “We weren’t cursed. We just didn’t have enough good start­ing pitch­ers, that’s all. And we never had a re­lief pitcher at all. The Yan­kees al­ways had good re­lief pitch­ers and that’s how they beat us late in games.”

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