In the winter of 1934, the Red Sox signed young infielder Bobby Doerr, who at 16 was already playing in the Pacific Coast League, and he became one of the keys to Boston’s return to American League relevance in the 1940s.
He debuted for the Red Sox in April 1937, just after his 19th birthday, and took over as their regular second baseman the following year. He grew into the job, earning the first of nine All-Star selections in 1941.
After missing the 1945 season while serving in the Army during World War II, Doerr returned to the Red Sox and helped lead them to the American League pennant in 1946, finishing third in the MVP voting.
Teammate and friend Ted Williams dubbed Doerr “the silent captain of the Red Sox,” per the Society for American Baseball Research and Doerr continued his high level of play until he was forced to retire after the 1951 season due to back problems.
In 14 seasons, Doerr hit .288/.362/.823, an OPS+ of 115, with 223 homers, 1,247 RBI and 1,094 runs scored. He led the league in slugging in 1944 and in sacrifice hits in his first full season in 1938. in 1950, he topped the AL in triples.
He topped the 100 RBI mark six times in his career and had a monster World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946, hitting .409/.458/1.049 with a homer and three RBI, missing Game 5 with an injury.
Also an outstanding defensive second baseman, Doerr led his position in fielding percentage and range factor four times.
He worked as a roving instructor and scout for the Red Sox from 1957-66 and joined the coaching staff for the big club from 1967-69.
Doerr later served as the first batting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977-81 and managed their rookie league team in Medicine Hat, Alberta, in 1982 and 1983.
He entered the Hall of Fame in 1986 after being selected by the Veteran’s Committee. At the time of his death on Nov. 13, 2017, was the oldest living Hall of Famer at age 99.