Red Sox great Do­err dies at 99

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Jeff Barnard

GRANTS PASS, ORE. » Bobby Do­err, the Hall of Fame sec­ond base­man dubbed the “Silent Cap­tain” of the Bos­ton Red Sox by long­time team­mate and friend Ted Wil­liams, has died. He was 99.

Do­err died on Mon­day in Junc­tion City, Ore­gon, the Red Sox said Tues­day in a state­ment. The Red Sox said Do­err had been the old­est liv­ing ma­jor league player.

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

Signed out of the old Pa­cific Coast League on the same scout­ing trip that brought Wil­liams to Fen­way Park, Do­err played 14 sea­sons with the Red Sox and joined his fish­ing buddy in the Hall of Fame in 1986. He had a .288 life­time av­er­age and helped the Red Sox to the 1946 World Series.

The nine-time All-Star of­ten for­gave his more ac­com­plished friend for his sto­ried anger and im­pa­tience.

“Ted couldn’t un­der­stand me­diocre, see. And I was in that me­diocre class,” Do­err told The As­so­ci­ated Press on his 90th birth­day in 2008, which the gov­er­nor of Ore­gon de­clared Bobby Do­err Day.

Do­err’s mod­esty was be­lied by his stats: He fin­ished with 2,042 hits, 223 home runs and 1,247 RBIs and he once went 414 games with­out an er­ror — a record at the time. His six sea­sons with at least 100 RBIs was not matched by another sec­ond base­man for 25 years.

Do­err was in­ducted into the Na­tional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 by the Vet­er­ans Com­mit­tee and the Red Sox re­tired his No. 1 jersey in 1988. The Red Sox hon­ored Do­err with a 2004 World Series ring af­ter break­ing their 86year cham­pi­onship drought.

As a hit­ter, Do­err said he was al­ways look­ing for the fast­ball, fig­ur­ing he couldn’t do much with a break­ing ball un­less it was a hang­ing curve.

“I didn’t like to hit guys like Bob Feller,” Do­err told the AP. “He had a big mo­tion and was a lit­tle on the wild side. You just had to bow your neck and stay in there.”

He fre­quently led AL sec­ond base­men in dou­ble plays, putouts and as­sists, cred­it­ing his field­ing skill to end­less hours spent bounc­ing a rub­ber ball against the front steps of his fam­ily’s Los An­ge­les home.

He helped the Red Sox win the AL pen­nant in 1946 — the only time his teams got past the Yan­kees — but they lost Game 7 of the World Series to the St. Louis Car­di­nals when Enos Slaugh­ter scored the win­ning run from first on a sin­gle. Do­err long main­tained that with just one more strong re­lief pitcher, they could have won more pen­nants.

Forced to re­tire by a bad back in 1951, Do­err lived out his re­tire­ment in Ore­gon, his adopted home af­ter spending a win­ter fish­ing for steel­head on the Rogue River and meet­ing his fu­ture wife. When Do­err re­tired, he picked up a bam­boo fly rod Wil­liams de­signed and named for him — but Do­err still had to pay for it.

Do­err re­turned to the Red Sox as a coach from 1967-69 and was a bat­ting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1980.

He was wear­ing a Blue Jays cap in a home video­tape while de­bat­ing hit­ting with Wil­liams dur­ing a 1987 fish­ing trip. Wil­liams main­tained a bat­ter needed to swing with a slight up­per­cut to squarely contact the ball on its down­ward an­gle from the pitcher’s mound; Do­err fa­vored a level swing, con­vinced that the top­spin put on the ball would help it carry.

The life­long friend­ship be­tween Do­err, Wil­liams, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMag­gio was de­scribed by David Hal­ber­stam in the 2003 book “The Team­mates: A Por­trait of a Friend­ship.” A statue com­mem­o­rat­ing that friend­ship was un­veiled at Fen­way in 2010.

Do­err was the last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the group.

Born Robert Per­sh­ing Do­err in Los An­ge­les on April 7, 1918, he fig­ured he would have grown up to work for the tele­phone com­pany like the rest of his fam­ily if he hadn’t found a ca­reer in baseball.

As a kid, Do­err pa­pered his room with pic­tures of big lea­guers, and re­mained a fan while a big lea­guer him­self, once run­ning to his locker for a bat to get au­to­graphed by Babe Ruth when he showed up at Fen­way Park. He was 16 when he joined the Hol­ly­wood Stars of the Pa­cific Coast League in 1934, and moved with the team to San Diego in 1936, where they be­came the Padres.

That’s when Do­err met Wil­liams, then a brash kid out of high school.

Af­ter the 1936 sea­son in San Diego, Do­err spent the win­ter fly fish­ing for steel­head in Ore­gon, where he fell in love with the teacher in the one-room school­house af­ter meet­ing her at a dance. The next spring Do­err was called up to the Red Sox to join fu­ture Hall of Fame stars Joe Cronin, Jim­mie Foxx and Lefty Grove.

Af­ter the fol­low­ing sea­son, Do­err and Mon­ica Rose­man Ter­pin were mar­ried. Ex­cept for the 1945 sea­son, which he spent in the Navy, Do­err and his fam­ily re­turned from Bos­ton every win­ter to the Rogue River com­mu­nity of Il­lahe, which he de­scribed as akin to turn­ing the clock back 100 years, with cab­ins lit by kerosene lamps and heated by wood stoves and no in­door plumb­ing.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from baseball, Do­err moved his fam­ily to Junc­tion City, his wife’s home­town, so their son, Don, could go to mid­dle school.

“Peo­ple ask, “Don’t you wish you played now,” Do­err said in 1990. “No. I know the money is bet­ter, but I just feel for­tu­nate to have played then. I think we had more fun. We played the game hard, but there is so much pres­sure on these guys.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bos­ton Red Sox left fielder Ted Wil­liams, left, tests the arm of Red Sox sec­ond base­man Bobby Do­err be­fore a 1942 game against against the White Sox.

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