Bobby Doerr, the oldest living major leaguer who enjoyed a 14-year Hall of Fame career with the Red Sox, died on Monday, the team announced. He was 99.
Doerr, the second baseman known as the “silent captain” on the Red Sox teams of the 1940s and early ’50s, is the only member of the Hall of Fame to live to be 99 years old. Though his playing career was cut short in 1951 at the age of 33 due to a back injury, Doerr went on to work for decades around the diamond.
The Los Angeles native was a scout for the Red Sox from 1957-1966 before serving as the team’s first base coach and hitting instructor from 1967-1969. Doerr later became the first hitting coach for the expansion Blue Jays, working in Toronto from 1977-1981.
The nine-time All-Star was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 before the Red Sox retired his No. 1 jersey two years later.
The Red Sox also inducted him into its inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1995 along with Boston legends and teammates Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky, among other players. When speaking of Doerr, Williams said: “We never had a captain, but he was the silent captain of the team.”
Yankees rival Tommy Henrich was also quoted praising Doerr as both a ballplayer and person.
“Bobby Doerr is one of the very few who played the game hard and retired with no enemies,” Henrich said.
Doerr, a career .288 hitter, smacked 223 home runs with 1,247 RBIs with the Red Sox. After leading the American League in slugging (.528) in 1944, he put his career on hold to enlist in the military for the duration of World War II.
He returned to the majors in 1946, leading the Red Sox to an American League pennant with 18 homers and 116 RBIs. Doerr hit .409 and drove in three more runs in Boston’s World Series loss to the Cardinals in seven games.