Hall-Of-Famer Bobby Doerr Who Died On Monday November 13 Was the Last Living Major Leaguer Who Played in the 1930s
Shades of 1946- Three stars of the last Red Sox American league championship team of 1946 (L-R) Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams are working together in the Red Sox 1963 training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona to bring the Red Sox back to the position where they will seriously challenge the Yankees again for the pennant. photo: Sporting News April 1963
When Bobby Doerr passed away at the age of 99 this week, he had been the last ballplayer to have played major league baseball in the 1930s. At the age of 19 Doerr debuted in the major leagues on April 20, 1937.
Think about that for a moment. That was over 80 years ago. Doerr played against Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane, Rogers Hornsby, Goose Goslin, Ossie Bluege and Mule Haas.
Doerr was a nine time all-star who had to retire prematurely at the age of 33 due to back problems. As great of a player Doerr was, he was an even better human being.
You get that assessment from the many people in and out of baseball who knew the man.
If you love baseball and have never read David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates (Hyperion) 2003, you should. This will give you a sense of Bobby Doerr, the man..
Halberstam spent time interviewing Boston Red Sox stars Doerr, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky and the complicated friendship they had on and off the field among themselves and their moody teammate, the tempestuous Ted Williams. These four players were the anchors of the dynamic Red Sox teams of the 1940s. With Doerr’s death, they’re all gone now.
The book doesn’t just focus on any one player but all four and covers each player’s post-baseball life.
It is one of the better baseball books that has been written over the last 25 years. Halberstam accomplishes a difficult feat – the fly on the wall who seemed to be there when he was not. He captures Williams, Doerr, Pesky and DiMaggio and their different personalities brilliantly.
Halberstam spoke with Red Sox star pitcher Mel Parnell who had this to say about Doerr: “When I first went to the Red Sox I met Bobby and he was already an established star. I was a kid, and I thought he was about the nicest teammate a person could ever have, and now more than fifty years later I’ve thought more, and I know more about the world, and I’ve decided he’s just about the nicest person I ever met.”
Halberstam writes “That was not a minority opinion. Bobby Doerr was, there was no doubt, the most centered of men, straight and old-fashioned, a square, more it seemed to me, if we were using generalizations, Midwestern than Californian, less driven by ego than people from Los Angeles are supposed to be, which was not surprising because the Doerrs were German-American and originally from St. Louis.”
If you want to know Bobby Doerr – don’t just look at his baseball statistics. Read The Teammates.