Red Sox legend Bobby Doerr dies at 99

Bobby Doerr, a Hall of Famer and nine-time All-Star for the Boston Red Sox, died Monday at the age of 99 in Junction City, Ore.

Dubbed the “Silent Captain of the Red Sox” by teammate Ted Williams, Doerr spent his entire 14-year career with the team, missing only the 1945 season while serving in the Army during World War II.

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

One of the most consistent players in baseball, Doerr once held the AL record with 414 consecutive chances without an error.

At the plate, Doerr held a .288 career batting average with 2,042 hits, 381 doubles, 89 triples, and 223 home runs, which at the time of his retirement after the 1951 season was the third-highest total ever for a second baseman. He also scored 1,094 runs and had 1,247 RBIs.

Doerr was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986, and his No. 1 was retired by the Red Sox two years later. Doerr had been the oldest former major-league player, the only Hall of Famer to live to be 99. He would’ve turned 100 on April 7.

Doerr was scouted by the Red Sox while playing for the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League, where Williams was one of his teammates and closest friends. It was a lucrative scouting trip out West by the Red Sox, who inked both future Hall of Famers, as well as Red Sox greats Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky, the latter of whom was Doerr’s best friend.

Doerr’s best season was in 1944, when he hit .325 and led the league with a .528 slugging percentage after hitting 15 home runs with 30 doubles and 10 triples. He was named the American League MVP by The Sporting News that season.

Following his stint in the Army, Doerr returned in 1946 to help the Red Sox reach the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Doerr made his MLB debut at the age of 19, but back problems led to his retirement at the age of 33. One of the most respected players of his time, Doerr was said to have “retired with no enemies.”

After his playing days, Doerr worked as a Red Sox scout from 1957-66, and was a coach from 1967-69. He later tried his hand as a cattle rancher, but eventually returned to baseball as the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977-81.

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Doerr started playing backyard baseball and took advantage of the Southern California climate to play year-round. After leading his American Legion team to a state championship in 1932, Doerr signed his first professional contract with the Hollywood Stars of the PCL. Always humble and considered one of the true gentlemen of the game, Doerr was the oldest person ever elected to the Hall at the time of his enshrinement.

“To be honest, I never thought of myself as a Hall of Famer,” he said at the time. “When I got the call, it was my ultimate thrill in baseball.”

Doerr and his wife, Monica, who were married from 1938 until her death in 2003, had one son, Donald.

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