The Hall of Famer who served as the Red Sox’s ‘silent captain’
Bobby Doerr 1918–2017
In an era of larger-thanlife baseball personalities, Bobby Doerr’s playing spoke for itself. Modest and softspoken, the second baseman played for the Boston Red Sox from 1937 to 1951, and was in many way the gentlemanly opposite of his more famous teammate, the loudmouthed and mercurial outfielder Ted Williams. It was Williams who dubbed Doerr the “silent captain” of that era’s Red Sox. Doerr’s effortless fielding and clutch hitting made the team a force to be reckoned with, especially against their perennial rivals, the New York Yankees. “I never had the feeling that I was good,” Doerr said in 2003, explaining how he stayed grounded. “I always had the feeling that I had to do a little better.”
Born in Los Angeles, Doerr “was a superior baseball player from a young age,” said The Washington Post. At age 16, he dropped out of high school to play minorleague baseball, earning his diploma in the off-season. He made his professional debut with the Red Sox just weeks after his 19th birthday. With Doerr and Williams— who joined the team two years later—the Red Sox became contenders again, winning their first American League pennant in 28 years in 1946.
“Doerr spent his entire career with the Red Sox,” said The Boston Globe. In 14 pro seasons, he was named to nine American League All-Star teams and led the league’s second basemen in double plays five times. In 1988, Doerr became only the third Red Sox player at the time to have his jersey number retired, and at his death he was the oldest living former major-league player. “People ask, ‘Don’t you wish you played now?’” Doerr said in 1990. “No. I know the money is better, but I think we had more fun.” ■