Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox
Robert Pershing Doerr (April 7, 1918 – November 13, 2017) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) second baseman and coach. He played his entire 14-year baseball career for the Boston Red Sox (1937–51). A nine-time all star, Doerr batted over .300 three times, drove in more than 100 runs six times, and set Red Sox team records in several statistical categories despite missing one season due to military service during World War II. Doerr is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After he retired as a player, Doerr served as a scout and a coach, including work with Carl Yastrzemski before his Triple Crown season. From April 25, 2017, until his death on November 13 of that year, Doerr was the oldest living former major league player. He was the last living person who played in the major leagues in the 1930s, and was the oldest of only three living people who made their MLB debut before U.S. involvement in World War II, the other two being Chuck Stevens and Fred Caligiuri.
Doerr was born the son of Harold Doerr, a telephone company supervisor, and his wife, the former Frances Herrnberger; his middle name was a tribute to General of the Armies John J. Pershing, then the commander of U.S. military forces in World War I.
From Baseball in Wartime:
Robert P. “Bobby” Doerr was born on April 7, 1918 in Los Angeles, California. A product of American Legion baseball, Doerr signed with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1934. The 16-year-old second baseman batted .259 that year and then went on a rampage against Coast League pitchers, hitting .317 with 74 RBIs.
Doerr was purchased by the Boston Red Sox for $75,000 in November 1935 and joined the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League for 1936. He batted .342 with the Padres and made his major league debut with the Red Sox just 13 days after his 19th birthday.
In his 1937 rookie major league season, Doerr played 55 games and batted .224. He became Boston’s regular second baseman in 1938 and was an all-star selection by 1941. He had one of his best seasons in 1944 when he was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Playing 125 games he batted .325, hit 15 home runs and drove in 81, while leading the league with a .528 slugging percentage.
Doerr’s major league career was put on hold on September 20, 1944 when he entered military service with the Army. A punctured eardrum, suffered when he was six years old, might have kept him out of service but he passed his physical examination and reported to Camp Roberts, California where he served for the duration.
Sergeant Doerr regularly played baseball at Camp Roberts, a replacement training center with a population that peaked at 45,000 in 1945. He received his discharge from service on December 15, 1945.
Doerr returned to the Red Sox in 1946 and despite a drop in average to .271, he drove in 116 runs and continued to play outstanding defense at second base.
He remained the regular second baseman of the Red Sox until he was forced to retire after the 1951 season due to serious back problems.
Doerr scouted for the Red Sox from 1957 to 1966, then spent three seasons -1967 to 1969 – as a Red Sox coach. In 1977, he became the first hitting coach of the expansion Toronto Blue Jays.
Bobby Doerr was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1986.