EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -The winter before Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr was called up to the Red Sox in 1937, he came to Oregon to fly fish for steelhead. He found his wife and a place to call home the rest of his life.
Doerr turned 90 Monday and Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared it Bobby Doerr Day in Oregon.
``It is appropriate to thank and honor this accomplished and most modest gentleman as an Oregon legend,'' Kulongoski read from the proclamation.
In making the presentation at the University of Oregon's Autzen Stadium Club, the governor - sporting a Red Sox T-shirt and red socks that he showed off to the crowd - confessed that he played hooky as a superdelegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention to watch the Red Sox play six games on their way to winning the AL pennant and World Series.
Doerr never won a World Series, even though he came within one game of winning it in 1946 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
But the Red Sox gave him a 2004 World Series ring, which he sported while presenting Kulongoski a replica of the Model D2 Louisville Slugger used by Doerr, who compiled 2,042 hits, 223 homers, 1,247 RBIs and a .288 batting average from 1937-51.
``What I will always remember is reading about the debates Bobby had with Ted Williams,'' who had dubbed Doerr the ``Silent Captain'' of the Red Sox, said Kulongoski.
``There was a fundamental difference in how you swing,'' Kulongoski said. ``Williams thought because the pitcher's on a mound, you had to take this 12 percent cut up, actually, to pick up the ball. Bobby was always one to think you should have a level swing. The difference was those guys who were tall and skinny could whip the bat.''
Doerr added in typical modesty, ``Ted couldn't understand mediocre, see, and I was in that mediocre class.''
Kulongoski said later he became a die-hard fan of the Splendid Splinter, and in turn the Red Sox, while growing up in St. Louis in the 1940s and listening to radio broadcasts of the Red Sox playing the Browns.
University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer noted that as a member of the Harvard band during the 1960s he had played at four Red Sox opening day games, and became a devoted fan. He added that from the window of the Stadium Club he could see the site of the Ducks' new baseball stadium that will be built to revive the sport dropped by the university in 1981.
Also on hand was U.S. District Judge James Redden, a Massachusetts native and fellow Red Sox fan.
``He was `Old Reliable,' `` said Redden, who did not meet Doerr until U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan invited him to speak at a party to honor Redden's retirement as a state judge. ``It gives me a big boost to see a hero who remains one.''
In 1951, a bad back forced Doerr to retire from baseball, and the next year he moved his family to Junction City, his wife's hometown, so their son, Don, could go to middle school. They also have a place in Illahe, along the Rogue River in southern Oregon, where Doerr spends time in the fall fly fishing for steelhead.
In his 14 seasons with the Red Sox, Doerr became a nine-time All-Star, and his three-run homer in 1943 led the AL to a 5-3 win. He had six 100-RBI seasons - an accomplishment that was not matched by another second baseman for 25 years. He returned to the Red Sox as a coach from 1967-69.
Doerr was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 after he was elected by the Veterans Committee, and the Red Sox retired his No. 1 jersey in 1988.
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