Doerr honored at Fenway Park

Sox celebrate Doerr's contributions in ceremony

BOSTON -- A revolutionary offensive second baseman in his day, Bobby Doerr was always able to set a goal and then go far beyond. It's one of the reasons he was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1986.

On Thursday, he had the occasion to recall such a moment 60 years ago to the day.

"I hope I can stay here another 50 years," Doerr said on Aug. 2, 1947 on the occasion of the first "Bobby Doerr Day" at Fenway Park.

Now 89 years young, Doerr has seen countless hot summer days like the one Boston experienced on Thursday.

So it seemed only appropriate that at the sun-baked Fenway Park for an afternoon tilt with the Orioles, the Hall of Fame second baseman was being honored for the contributions to his only Major League team in a 14-year playing career.

The Red Sox beat the Tigers, 2-1, that day. And as was the case 60 years ago, teammates Dave "Boo" Ferriss and fellow Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky were on hand with Doerr. The difference this day was that all three were driven in from center field in a shiny aqua-blue convertible, followed by Doerr's address to the crowd from the infield grass he patrolled while playing.

"I was fortunate to play here in Boston before the greatest fans in baseball," Doerr said.

He even had praise for the current Red Sox player at his old position.

"I enjoy watching that second baseman out there," Doerr said of Dustin Pedroia. "He's having a great year."

After the presentation led by Red Sox owner John Henry, Doerr, whose No. 1 was retired by the Red Sox in 1988, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin.

Doerr, a longtime resident of Oregon, rarely makes the cross-country trip to Boston anymore because of the toll it takes. It makes Thursday that much more special, because it is likely to be his final trip to Fenway.

"The thing I think back on is we traveled by train all the time," Doerr recalled at a luncheon this week in his honor. "And we were like a family. ... Guys would be playing cards and another group would be talking baseball. It just seemed like we had a big family closeness. And then when the airplanes started coming in, it seemed like it separated them in twos and threes. They'd get off the plane and you'd see two or three guys go off.

"When we were on the train, we were just together all the time. And I think it brought closeness a little bit more," he added.

Pesky, like Doerr, had plenty of time to get to know all of his teammates and said everyone always took a liking to Doerr.

"You always like a good guy," Pesky said. "And we were always impressed with Bobby. He's a decent person."

Maureen Cronin, daughter of Joe Cronin, the man who managed Doerr that day, was also in attendance.

As a way of saying thanks, the team took out full page ads in both The Boston Globe and Boston Herald recognizing Doerr's career and service to the organization.

"We salute our friend and mentor, Bobby Doerr. Thank you for your years of service and dedication to this club -- The Boston Red Sox."

A hot infield prospect from Los Angeles, Doerr played 14 seasons in the Majors, all with the Red Sox, batting .288 with 223 home runs and 1,247 RBIs, all franchise standards for second basemen.

From the moment he debuted with Boston in 1937, Doerr's offensive production was well ahead of its time for second base. He had six 100-RBI seasons, the last coming in 1950. That number would not be equaled by a big-league second baseman until Joe Morgan did it for Cincinnati in the first of back-to-back MVP seasons in 1975.

He remains the only Red Sox player to hit for the cycle twice, including once that year on May 13, 1947, against Chicago.

While a back injury forced him to retire after the 1951 season, Doerr still ranks among the top six in 11 different Red Sox batting categories.

After his playing career, Doerr moved on to coach in the majors in two different stints, including with the Red Sox from 1967-69.

And as Thursday afternoon proved yet again, Doerr remains a vibrant link to a golden era in Red Sox history.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.