I was looking through players who died on March 9th and stumbled on the name Bill Doran, who passed away in 1978. I remembered the more recent Bill Doran, who was a talented second baseman with the Astros and Reds in the 1980s and 1990s. So this a the quick story about the first Bill Doran.
William James Doran was a California kid, born June 14, 1898 in San Francisco, and went to St. Mary’s College in Oakland where he was a captain from his perch at third base from his sophomore year on. Prior to that, he had served his time in the US Navy during World War I. In the spring of 1922, he made a handshake deal with Charley Pick, manager of the Sacramento Solons, after an exhibition spring training game between the Solons and St. Mary’s. However, a scout for Cleveland saw Doran and convinced the Indians to sign Doran that May when college classes ended.
Spending most of the summer with Cleveland, it wasn’t until July before he got in the game as a pinch runner. Naturally, the rookie got caught in a rundown after making the turn near third base and he was retired in a run down. Another month passed before he got to replace Larry Gardner at 3B late in the second game of a double header. He walked in his only appearance. Then, he appeared in a third game – got a single and grounded out – so a .667 OBP. He hadn’t made it, really, but he played in three MLB games.
In the middle of August, he was dispatched to Chattanooga for some seasoning, only Sacramento put in a claim for him based on that handshake deal. Things never really worked out for Doran, though he had some decent seasons in the minors between 1923 and 1930, including a quick stint managing for Wichita at the end of one season. In the end, he spent more time playing and later managing locally with semipro teams.
Doran moved to the LA area in his later years, working for the Los Angeles Angels at the ballpark and marrying Phyllida Sahm, a schoolteacher and noted sailor, in 1952. They had no children together. His Los Angeles Times obituary noted that he wouldn’t have a ceremony; FindaGrave.com says his ashes were not buried.
There was a Bill Doran who was a really, really good handball player in Southern California. Wonder if it was this Bill Doran.
World War II Registration Cards
California Marriage Licenses
Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, and Cleveland Plain Dealer articles (sorry – should be more detailed… Will do that later.)