Red Sox Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr chatted with fans online Friday. Doerr shared his memories about playing with the legendary Red Sox of the 1940s, his relationship with Ted Williams and his thoughts on the state of baseball today.
Base_Ball: What was your favorite part about playing with the Red Sox?
Bobby Doerr: I think the fans are probably the best in the world. They are so loyal. They park miles away and walk to the park, very loyal. Playing in Fenway was a great place to play being a right-handed hitter. I was very fortunate to play there. In 1948, there were rumors I might be traded to Detroit and I almost became sick. I wanted to stay in Fenway.
marlinsws03dateam: How did it feel when you found out you were in the Hall of Fame?
Doerr: That was a great thrill. I never thought I would ever get in here. You don't think about it when you're playing. When Ed Stack (president of Hall of Fame) called me in 1986, I was almost sure I was in. Ted Williams was with him and he talked to me. It was a great thrill. Ted said he was real happy for me.
tedwilliams09: Mr. Doerr, it is an honor to talk to you. I would like to know your fondest memory of Fenway Park itself?
Doerr: I have to say there were so many. But when they retired my number it was a great thrill. I felt like playing every day in Fenway Park was a thrill.
lilboomer: Being a life long Red Sox fan, what is your perspective of the curse and why do you think the 2004 Red Sox were the team to break it with so many other great Sox teams over the years?
Doerr: I never believed in the curse. We got beat in 1946 by the Cardinals and I felt like the better club generally wins. We made some mistakes and the Cardinals won. Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and I threw out the first pitch during the playoffs and World Series. We got to see the 2004 Sox up close, and they were so loose. They were like the old Gas House Gang, so loose and goofing around. I admire Terry Francona for letting them be so loose.
ifaf: What have you been doing since you retired?
Doerr: I retired in 1951 with a bad back. We built a home in Oregon and we lived there. I loved the people there and we needed a place for our son to go to school so we liked it there. I ended up buying some land and doing some cattle ranching. I did that for a few years. I went back into baseball in 1957 working with the Red Sox Minor League system. I did that until 1966, and then Dick Williams asked me to be his hitting coach in Toronto in the late 1960s. Now I fish whenever I can and stay on the Rogue River. But I also find myself back in Boston quite a bit, so that's nice. In fact, I was in Boston recently and the Red Sox gave me a World Series ring, which was very generous.
tedwilliams09: I would like to know what your best memory is of No. 9?
Doerr: I could go on all day talking about No. 9. I got to see Ted Williams break in in San Diego. He was 6-foot-2 and 140 pounds. He hit five to six home runs way out there. Then the Sox signed Ted for $125 a month. And Ted was just so proud. Later, Eddie Collins came out and saw both Ted and I. Collins made sure that Boston had the first shot at Ted's contract. I also think one of the biggest thrills I had in baseball was when Ted hit that home run in the All-Star Game to win the game. Ted was just so good to me. We became such good friends. We loved to fish and we talked about fishing. He loved western movies and we'd do that too. Also, Ted's family wasn't very close, and he'd come to my house and see how we were so close, he liked that. I think Ted realized that I was a calming influence too. You could ask anyone who played with Ted and they'd say he was one of the finest people they knew.
mlb_com_member: How did Joe McCarthy hold up during those tough losses in 1948 and 1949?
Doerr: He was all right. The unfortunate thing about 1948 and 1949 was the number of games we lost late in the game. We didn't have a relief pitcher to close out the games. I think we might have won a few more pennants if we'd had that. McCarthy always wanted to stand pat with the players we had and didn't want to get new players during the year, and that might have contributed.
Base_Ball: What was your favorite team to play?
Doerr: I liked Detroit. Cleveland had tough pitching. Yankee Stadium was very hard to hit in because of the shadows. I'm not sure how Joe DiMaggio did so well hitting in that park.
Base_Ball_4: Bobby, are you an avid baseball fan? Do you watch a lot of games?
Doerr: I like to watch Seattle play because I get the games out there. I love Ichiro. He reminds me of DiMaggio. He beats you with his fielding, his hitting, his speed. He doesn't have the power of DiMaggio, but he can really beat you.
zachjulian: Who was the best player you ever faced?
Doerr: DiMaggio. He was an all-around player. In Yankee Stadium you had to hit the ball so far in left or left-center and he still hit so many homers. The shadows, as I said before, were very hard. He was an incredible player. I don't think anyone will ever hit in 56 straight games. The way the game is today it's too hard. Someone like Ichiro might hit .400, but 56 straight games, I don't think so.
bostonrdsxbabe18: I was just wondering what it was like to play with Birdie? Was he a cool person?
Doerr: Birdie Tebbetts was a real nice fella. He was a real sharp guy.
mlb_com_member: You're credited will pulling off the "hidden ball trick" against Denny Galehouse of the Browns in 1943. What do you remember about that play?
Doerr: I remember that I had the hidden ball and I couldn't get the first baseman's attention. And Galehouse was on first and finally I just ran over toward Galehouse and tackled him and tagged him out.
Base_Ball: Mr. Doerr, who would you say is the best player in the league today?
Doerr: I'd say Ichiro -- if I had to pick one player. I know Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols are great, but I would pick Ichiro. He can beat the other team so many ways. He's modest and he hustles all the time.
Doerr: I really appreciate everyone who has logged on. I think baseball is as good as it has ever been. The players are great. I think baseball is still a great game. I hope to see you all here in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend on July 31. I think everyone should have an opportunity to come here to Cooperstown and see this museum. I am so honored to be in the Hall of Fame. Sometimes I think this might be a dream. I feel like God answered my prayers and I became a ballplayer like I always wanted to be. Thanks again!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.