Buckley: Bobby Doerr leaves classy baseball legacy

During a return visit to Boston in May of 2005, Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr, 87 years old at the time, was asked to share the secret of his robust health.

“It all begins with a healthy frame of mind,” he said. “I have very good friends, a great faith in God, which is very important to me, and a good sense of humor. I’m just a happy person.”

Doerr’s disposition served him well and earned him countless admirers. A rugged player during his 14 seasons in the major leagues, all with the Red Sox, he was the unofficial captain of the 1946 pennant-winning team and for many years served the club as a scout and coach. In his only World Series, which the Red Sox lost to the St.  Louis Cardinals in seven games, Doerr hit .409.

His popularity was wonderfully renewed late in life with the release of “The Teammates,” written by the late David Halberstam as an ode to the friendship that existed between Doerr and fellow Red Sox legends Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio and Ted Williams. The book proved so popular that a statue honoring the four players was erected outside Fenway Park.

Robert Pershing “Bobby” Doerr, the last surviving member of “The Teammates” and the oldest living member of the Hall of Fame, died Monday at the age of 99. A native of Los Angeles, Doerr passed away in Junction City, Ore., where he had lived for many years.

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

Such was Doerr’s link to the early days of baseball that he was the last surviving player to have appeared in a game in the 1930s and the last to have competed against New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig. On Opening Day in 1939, Doerr was 1-for-4 in the Red Sox’ 2-0 loss to the Yankees. Gehrig was 0-for-4. Gehrig, soon to be diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, took himself out of the Yankees lineup just a few weeks later, ending his iron man streak at 2,130 consecutive games played.

When Doerr made his major league debut April  20, 1937 against Philadelphia, the Athletics manager was Connie Mack, who had been filling out lineup cards since 1894.

The dominant second baseman of his era both offensively and defensively, Doerr was an American League All-Star in…

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