Fred Doe

Except for two games in the 1890 Players League, Fred Doe devoted his entire baseball career to the minor leagues in New England. On the diamond, Doe quickly progressed from player to manager during the period 1885 to 1888. In the 1890s, Doe became a non-playing manager and in the early 1900s he moved up into ownership. In his later years, Doe helped change the law in Massachusetts to allow Sunday baseball and upon his death was called the “Father of Sunday Baseball.”

Alfred George Doe was born on April 18, 1864 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a town located on the Cape Ann Peninsula about thirty miles north of Boston. He was the youngest child of George and Elizabeth (Flynn) Doe, who married in 1854 in Gloucester after immigrating from England and Ireland, respectively. Doe had two older siblings, William and Martha. Doe grew up in nearby Rockport, where his father supported the family by selling liquor, after working as a mariner while the family lived in Gloucester.

By Doe’s own account, baseball was not his best sport–roller polo was his forte. Roller polo is a forgotten sport today. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, though, before basketball and ice hockey were popularized, roller polo was THE professional sport during the winter season. Doe was the Gene Conley or Bo Jackson of his day, playing two professional sports during the same calendar year. “Although he built a lasting reputation in baseball, he made a greater name for himself in roller polo, a game at which he was adept,” the Quincy Patriot Ledger described Doe after his death.

Roller polo was similar to today’s game of street hockey, but played in an indoor arena. Players used sticks more similar to those used by field hockey players today. According to the constitution of the National Association of Professional Roller Polo Clubs, roller polo sticks were “four feet in length, one inch and one-eighth in diameter, and weigh about fifteen ounces. The crook of the stick is covered with leather and a cord is attached to the handle to prevent the stick from slipping from the hand.” Players maneuvered around the roller polo rink on roller skates that had rolls of “standard size with a smooth, brass face and no skate can be more than two inches shorter than the ordinary boot or shoe of the player.”

Doe started his professional sports career playing roller polo during the winter of 1884-1885, as he recounted in a lengthy reminiscence in the New Bedford Evening Standard on June 1, 1919. “[Frank] Winslow signed a contract to pay me $50 per [game] and half of the money that the club received for exhibition games, which was to be no less than $50 more. One hundred dollars a week was too much money for me to handle, it made me too important. Jumping from $4 a week in a brush factory to $100 a week in polo was going from a shoestring to a millionaire too quick. It didn’t take long to cut me down to my level and the next year I was getting about what I was worth, not what I thought I was worth.”

Part of his financial education in professional sports came when the New England League organized in the spring of 1885 to play minor league baseball. Doe organized a team to represent Gloucester as a sixth team in the circuit to complement the larger industrial cities of Lawrence, Haverhill, and Brockton in Massachusetts and Portland and Biddeford in Maine. However, Doe backed out of the league at the last minute, presumably because his financial backers bailed out on him. In the ruthless business practices of the times, the other New England League owners blacklisted Doe from playing with any league team in 1885.

Doe had accepted the New England League schedule with Gloucester on it “in writing, and [as] a man whose word is to be relied on, everything is supposed to be all right,” Sporting Life castigated the budding sports promoter in its April 22 issue that spring. On May 12 the Boston Herald reported that the New England League team owners had changed the schedule to accommodate a five-team league and voted “that Mr. A.G. Doe of Gloucester be expelled for dishonorable conduct.” Doe thus became the first player blacklisted by the fledging New England League.

Only Doe didn’t take his expulsion seriously, nor did the Portland club which a few weeks later signed him to a player contract. “Fred Doe of Gloucester has been engaged as first baseman by the Portlands,” the Boston Globe noted on June 10. Doe appeared in Portland’s June 9 game against Lawrence, batted ninth in the order, and went 0 for 4 at bat. Even though Lawrence won the game, 8-3, the New England League owners declared the game null at a June 18 meeting, “by reason that Portland played Doe, an expelled player,” according to the Globe account of the meeting.

Doe eventually made his amends with the New England League owners and was reinstated at the January 20, 1886, league meeting. “An important piece of business accomplished by the meeting was the reinstatement of A.G. Doe of last season’s Gloucester club, who was black-listed for apparently no cause,” the Globe reported. Doe played only sporadically in the New England League during 1886 and 1887, a few games with Haverhill in mid-season 1886, several weeks with Lynn at the end of the 1886 season, a few weeks in 1887 with Haverhill until the team disbanded in July. Despite his limited on-field skills, his teams often used him as field captain, which equates to player-manager in today’s game, based on his leadership skills honed in roller polo arenas during the winter. As the Boston Herald noted on August 18 that year, “If Doe could play ball as he can play polo, he would be a power with the Lynns.”

For the next four years, 1888 through 1891, Doe played on a variety of independent and company-sponsored baseball teams in eastern Massachusetts, teams that were not associated with an organized minor league (the New England disbanded after the 1888 season). Most notably, in 1890, Doe pitched for the John F. Morrill club, a team sponsored by the athletic goods company operated by the former manager of the Boston team in the National League, John Morrill. Doe’s exploits in the pitcher’s box in 1890 made headlines in the Boston Globe, including “Sixteen Men Fall Before Doe’s Curves” on June 29 and “Doe Was Invincible for the Morrills” on July 20. In the July 19 game against Ashland that spawned the latter headline, Doe pitched a no-hitter. “Fred Doe shut the home team out without a hit or run,” the Globe wrote. “He was invincible, and to him alone is the victory due.”

Morrill was likely responsible for securing Doe’s major league playing opportunity in the Players League in 1890, since Morrill knew Mike Kelly, the manager of the Boston team in the Players League. Both men had been on the Boston National League team in 1887 and 1888, and Morrill had finished up his major league playing career by playing a game for Kelly in July 1890. Doe’s Players League experience consisted of two successive Saturdays in late August, pitching for the visiting team in Boston to play Kelly’s team. Kelly may have had a standing arrangement with the visiting team to supply a ready pitching substitute, i.e., Doe, when that team’s pitching corps was depleted.

Doe made his major league debut on August 23, 1890, when he started in the pitcher’s box for the Buffalo team against Kelly’s pennant-bound Players League squad. “Capt. [Jay] Faatz was forced to try Fred Doe, a local amateur, in the box,” the Boston Globe reported. “Fred did very well, considering the bad support given him.” Buffalo lost to Boston 10-0 in a six-inning game played in rainy weather before a mere 517 people in attendance at the Congress Street grounds.

One week later on August 30, Doe relieved starting pitcher John Tener of the Pittsburgh team in the sixth inning and finished out the game as Boston routed Pittsburgh 16-4. “Fred Doe replaced Tener with the score 14 to 2 in favor of Boston and did good work, keeping the home team down to four hits, and two runs in the last four innings,” the Globe reported.

It was back to playing for independent teams for Doe, until the New England League revived for the 1892 season under the direction of a new league president, Tim Murnane, who was also the sports editor of the Boston Globe. In 1892 Doe pitched and played outfield for Brockton. With the Brockton team, Doe got his first exposure to Sunday baseball, which was expressly forbidden by law in Massachusetts at the time but tolerated by officials in Warwick, Rhode Island, for games played at the Rocky Point resort. In a quest that took thirty-five years to achieve fruition, Doe was instrumental in helping to change the Massachusetts law in 1928 to permit professional baseball games on Sunday.

Brockton player Bill McGunnigle probably arranged the Sunday game at Rocky Point in 1892, since he managed the Providence team in the Eastern League in 1891. McGunnigle, who likely witnessed several exhibition games played there in 1891 by the Boston team in the American Association, participated in the first regular-season Sunday baseball game played by professionals within the borders of New England, on August 9, 1891 at Rocky Point. On July 10, 1892, Doe pitched Brockton to a 7-6 victory over the Woonsocket, Rhode Island, team in the New England League’s first Sunday game.

In 1893, Doe managed the Brockton team, but by the end of the season, he had his sights set on New Bedford–for both baseball as well as roller polo. In early October, Doe surrendered the Brockton franchise to New England League officials, who the same day had voted a new franchise for New Bedford. The New England Polo League also on the same day awarded a new franchise to New Bedford. “The New Bedford franchise was voted to Frank Leonard, the well-known baseball manager,” the Boston Globe reported. “Capt. Doe will probably take his Brockton team to New Bedford.”

Doe was also expected to manage the New Bedford baseball team. However, lacking enough financial support for a baseball team in New Bedford in 1894, Doe returned to Haverhill for the 1894 season as just a player, not manager of the team. Pawtucket, Rhode Island, joined the New England League for the 1894 season and played several Sunday games, trying to emulate the Sunday success enjoyed by the Providence team in the Eastern League. Doe’s enthusiasm for Sunday baseball was whetted further as the Haverhill team played three Sunday games in 1894. Doe pitched in the July 1 game at Rocky Point, a 17-8 win over Pawtucket, and played second base in the games at Crescent Park in East Providence on August 12 and August 19.

Doe finally launched a baseball team in New Bedford for the 1895 season. On March 27, the New Bedford Morning Mercury reported, “A new base ball association organized last evening at the Board of Trade.” Doe, who was elected manager of the team, then began a promotional campaign to stir up interest. “Manager Doe will gladly call on any one who desires to take stock [in the team],” the Morning Mercury reported two days later, “or he may be seen at the Manhattan House.” New Bedford was officially admitted to the New England League at its April 3 meeting in Boston.

His arrival in New Bedford changed Doe’s life forever. Besides his baseball and roller polo interests in the city, Doe met his wife there. On March 24, 1896, Doe married Mary Bryant in a wedding ceremony in New Bedford. Mary would later give birth to the couple’s only child, a daughter. He also solidified a friendship with Charlie Ashley, who would be elected twenty-two times as mayor of New Bedford.

Doe tried for two years to field a winning team in New Bedford, one that would yield a financial return to the team’s stockholders. In his first long-term managerial assignment, Doe gained valuable experience in 1895 and 1896 in all aspects of running a baseball club, but turning a profit in minor league baseball was a difficult task in the depression-ridden economy of the 1890s. His financial backers threw in the towel after the 1896 season.

Although another organization formed to field a New Bedford team for the 1897 season, Doe left the city to play the 1897 season with the nearby Fall River team. He was able to organize another New Bedford team for the 1898 season, but a city-wide three-month strike by textile workers put a significant dent in the New Bedford economy. Doe’s team lasted barely one month into the 1898 season; the New England League itself collapsed before the Fourth of July holiday.

Sunday baseball was used as a last-ditch effort to keep the league afloat, given the desperate financial situation of most of its teams. On June 5, New Bedford played a Sunday game against Fall River at a new resort just over the Rhode Island state line from Fall River, Mt. Hope Park. With Doe at second base, New Bedford defeated Fall River 7-2. Attendance at the Sunday game was disappointing, though, deflating hopes of keeping the league alive. With Providence holding a virtual monopoly on Sunday baseball attendance at its games played at Rocky Point, the New England League never seriously tried to play Sunday games again until the 1920s. Doe had learned some painful lessons about the dynamics of Sunday baseball in New England, which he would later turn to his own advantage when he became an owner of the Providence club.

With the New Bedford economy in shambles due to the textile workers strike, and the economies of other Massachusetts cities not all that much better, Doe looked elsewhere in the region to ply his managerial talents for roller polo and baseball teams. During the winters of 1899 and 1900, Doe managed a roller polo team in Waterbury, Connecticut before heading to northern New England for the winter of 1901 to run a team in Lewiston, Maine.

Since the minor league baseball situation in New England was so troublesome in 1899, Doe tried to land a job as an umpire in the National League. “Doe has the backing of Chicago, Washington and several other cities, but Pres. Soden of Boston is not in favor of putting any more New England umpires on the league staff,” the Boston Globe reported on March 2 that year. “Doe will have a difficult job to land a place this season.” In fact, he did not get the job. “Although Fred Doe failed to land on the league staff of umpires, he didn’t forget to send his old friends a fine group picture of the Waterbury polo team,” the Globe joked on April 6.

Rebuffed at an entry into the National League, Doe stayed out of baseball for the 1899 season, which saw the New England League finish its season in turmoil and fail to restart in 1900. Doe stayed in Connecticut for the 1900 baseball season to manage the Norwich team in the Connecticut State League. At Norwich, Doe won his only pennant as a baseball manager, when Norwich finished in first place with a 64-35 record.

Running the Lewiston, Maine, team during the winter of 1901 was Doe’s last fling at roller polo, as he sensed its ultimate demise due to the rise of basketball and bowling leagues, as well as the popularity of outdoor ice hockey. However, his roller polo tenure in Lewiston led to Doe’s return to a baseball post in the New England League, which revived again for the 1901 season as the new American League baseball team in Boston re-energized enthusiasm for the sport within New England. It was at Lewiston where Doe seems to have taken his first share of ownership in a baseball team.

As he worked his way back to Massachusetts, with an ultimate goal of returning to New Bedford, Doe set up a team in Dover, New Hampshire in 1902. New Bedford was awarded a New England League franchise on January 14, 1903. However, when the refurbishing of the baseball grounds in New Bedford wouldn’t be completed on time to start the 1903 season, Doe began the season with a team in Brockton.

After Doe tried to sell the Brockton franchise for $2,500 (most of it to cover his losses in Lewiston, Doe said), baseball enthusiasts in New Bedford organized to create a financial incentive for Doe to return to New Bedford. According to the June 27 New Bedford Morning Mercury, Doe got a guarantee of $2,000 from the sale of season tickets (200 tickets at $10 each), $500 from the street railway company, and free use of the grounds. This seems to have been the beginning of Doe’s relationship with Mayor Ashley of New Bedford, who likely orchestrated the outbreak of exuberance among business owners to buy season tickets and convince the trolley line to help fund the baseball team. On June 22, the league voted to allow Doe to transfer the Brockton club to New Bedford.

For two and a half years, Doe operated the New Bedford club. He registered a second place finish in 1904, but more importantly established a solid financial foundation for the team with his exceptional promotional, negotiation, and business instincts. Placing a team in New Bedford fostered a natural rivalry with nearby Fall River, which helped to attract more spectators to games. Doe fed the newspaper writers plenty of material to stoke the competition between the two textile-mill cities.

Doe also shrewdly watched the gate receipts. As related in the August 9, 1904 New Bedford Morning Mercury, the Fall River Globe complained that Doe was $13.50 shy on the visitor’s share of the gate receipts when Fall River played at New Bedford on Saturday August 6. “The kick was over Fall River getting its percentage on ladies tickets, which cost the regular price in New Bedford on Saturdays and holidays, the Morning Mercury reprinted a Globe item. “Doe claims he gets nothing for them [ladies’ tickets] in Fall River and refuses to divide, but Freddie forgets that they don’t charge [ladies] here.”

It was the electric trolley system that really made the New Bedford baseball venture work in the early years of the 1900s, compared to the lean years that Doe spent there in the 1890s. “The small leagues have been materially benefited by the trolley roads, as the public can get to the ball parks much quicker than in years past,” Tim Murnane wrote in the Boston Globe on September 13, 1903, referring to the earlier era of horse-drawn cars. “In many of the small leagues the teams go from town to town in this way, the roads often helping out in a financial way.” With electric trolley lines throughout New Bedford as well connecting to other cities and towns, Doe drew spectators from areas outside of the central city. Spectators that followed the visiting teams playing at the New Bedford grounds–especially those in Fall River–could also more easily attend games.

In February 1906, Doe sold the New Bedford club and took his profits. “A.G. Doe, proprietor of the New Bedford baseball team of the New England League, has agreed to sell the club to Joseph A, Burke of the firm of Burke & Shay of this city for $4,000,” the Boston Globe reported on February 19, 1906. With the proceeds, Doe bought into the new baseball club in Worcester formed by Jesse Burkett, a former major league ball player. As a member of the team’s board of directors, Doe saw Burkett build a new ball grounds in Worcester, assemble a team, and win the New England League pennant in 1906.

Doe sold his interest in the Worcester club to the team’s treasurer and parlayed that sale into the biggest baseball purchase of his life–the Providence club of the Eastern League. Doe teamed up with former major leaguer High Duffy to purchase four-fifths of the Providence club, one of the most highly desired minor league clubs due to its Sunday baseball games at Rocky Point, the only area in New England that, at the time, tolerated Sunday baseball in contravention of state law. Attendance at Sunday games often topped 10,000 spectators, which was triple the best day for a New England League team. The Boston Globe announced the purchase on November 10, 1906. “Doe for the business management and Duffy for the players will be a hard proposition for the other Eastern League magnates to beat,” the Globe wrote. “The Eastern League has made a splendid addition to its ranks.”

The Globe‘s Murnane, who still doubled as president of the New England League, praised Doe’s achievement in the baseball world in a January 20, 1907 article. “Few men rise in baseball from the player end of the game. Those that manage to fathom the deep secrets of the sport, however, from the field to the making of the laws, must be composed of a select fiber,” Murnane wrote. “Fred Doe seems to have landed all to the good.”

Attendance was so large at Sunday games, and therefore gate receipts so lucrative, that the Providence team often went to great lengths to travel to Rocky Point to play the Sunday games. In order to play the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Sunday August 25, 1907 in between Chicago’s Saturday and Monday games in Boston, Providence traveled all the way from its Saturday game in Rochester, New York and then returned to Buffalo, New York for a Monday game. Providence blanked the Cubs 3–0 in the exhibition game, which also gave the Chicago players a chance to relax after the game. “After the defeat, they had a plunge in the ocean and then sat down to a special shore dinner,” the Chicago Tribune related the next day. “The players returned [to Boston] full of beautiful scenery, salt water, clams, and lobsters and no one remembered how the game came out,” while the Providence team jumped on a train for a long ride to Buffalo.

Despite the financial remuneration derived from eleven Eastern League dates at Rocky Point (several others were rained out) as well as four exhibitions with major league teams, Doe and Duffy did not get along as co-owners and their squabbles spilled over into public view. “The sensation of the hour in the Eastern circles is the battle between Hugh Duffy and Fred Doe, the well-known owners of the Providence franchise in the Eastern League, to secure the upper hand in the club,” the Washington Post reported on November 7, 1907. “Doe undoubtedly thought he secured the whip hand in the matter when he secured Sunday ball grounds at Rocky Point, but this appears not to have disturbed the equanimity of Duffy in the least, as that worthy [man] has been going about his business just as if nothing at all had happened.” In April 1908, Doe disposed of his two-fifths ownership in the Providence club, to end the wrangling among the owners.

Once he sold his interest in the Providence minor league team, Doe dropped from the public eye. He then focused his energies on his insurance business (with American Boiler Life Company of Boston), amateur baseball (Quincy City League), and changing the law to be able to play baseball on Sunday.

In April 1920, the Massachusetts legislature finally relented and permitted Sunday baseball to be played by amateur players. Doe and many other supporters then concentrated on expanding the law to allow Sunday games to be played with professional players. The purchase of the Boston Braves team in 1923 by Judge Emil Fuchs was the catalyst for the professional Sunday baseball movement in Massachusetts. Fuchs had seen how Sunday baseball had flourished in New York after the law was changed in 1919, and he financially supported the Sunday baseball effort in Massachusetts. Judge Fuchs, with his wily legal mind, sought to use the new voter referendum statute to work around the obstinacy of the Massachusetts legislature that routinely voted down every bill submitted to legalize Sunday games.

The Sunday baseball voter initiative began in 1924, when proponents of Sunday baseball, headed by Doe and backed by the management of the Boston Braves, collected 26,000 signatures to force the legislature to act. If the legislature then failed to enact the Sunday baseball bill in 1925, and if another 5,000 signatures were collected, the question would be put to the voters at the next state-wide election in 1926.

“Doe symbolized the benefit that young people would get by attending professional and semi-pro baseball games on Sunday,” the author of the book Sunday Baseball wrote. “The proponents for the petition also hoped that Doe’s leadership would minimize the focus on the reality that the Braves and Red Sox might make a few dollars from expected large crowds at Sunday games.”

In February 1925, a legislative committee held hearings on the proposed voter referendum. Doe and the Sunday baseball proponents were outgunned at the committee meeting. Their arguments fell on deaf legislative ears, such as the appeal from Doe’s friend, ex-mayor Ashley of New Bedford, that “forty-one thousand New Bedford mill workers who now never get a chance to see a Boston ball game without taking a day off can have such a chance on Sunday.”

When both the House and Senate handily defeated the Sunday baseball bill, Doe and his troops (including the Boston Braves management) charged on toward the 1926 state election to get the issue before the voters. In August 1925, Doe filed 17,206 signatures–far more than the 5,000 required–with the Secretary of State to get the question on the November 1926 ballot. “The question of whether professional baseball games may be played on Sundays in Massachusetts will be on the ballot for approval or rejection by voters at the 1926 election,” the Boston Post reported on August 4, 1925. “That was made certain yesterday when Fred Doe of Quincy filed with the Secretary of State more than the necessary 5,000 signatures in addition to the more than 20,000 which he filed when the bill was presented to the legislature at its last session.”

In light of the expected voter passage of the Sunday baseball referendum on the November 1926 ballot that would allow Sunday games in 1927, Doe helped to revive the New England League one more time in 1926. Claude Davidson transformed the Boston Twilight League into the latest version of the New England League, which had been out of business for the most part after it merged with the Connecticut League in 1916. Davidson signed up baseball celebrities as owners and directors of teams. In an interview published in the June 1926 issue of Baseball Magazine, Davidson mentioned that “Fred Doe is owner of the Portland [Maine] club.” A Christian Science Monitor article on January 30, 1926, claimed that “Doe was the real instigator of the league.”

The eight New England League teams feverishly fought red ink to finish out the 1926 season, in expectation of financial redemption through Sunday baseball games in 1927 to be authorized by voters that November. However, there was a legal snafu. Shortly after the conclusion of the 1926 New England League season, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of an appeal by the Lord’s Day League and ordered the Secretary of State to strike the Sunday baseball question from the November ballot.

“Two years ago when the initiative petitions were circulated to place the matter before the Legislature, some 26,000 signers affixed their names to a document calling for the legalizing of ‘Sunday sports.’ After the matter was defeated last year in the Legislature, it became necessary to obtain 5000 additional signatures in order to place the issue on the ballot, but this time the signers approved a petition which would authorize ‘Sunday baseball’ alone,” the Christian Science Monitor reported on June 8, 1926. The Lord’s Day League contended that “because in one case voters favored Sunday sports, which is a much broader term, and in the other case approved only Sunday baseball … the matter would be illegally placed on the ballot.”

The Boston Globe reported the court ruling in a front-page article in its evening edition on September 18, 1926. “It is manifest that there are substantial differences between the proposed law and the description of it contained in the initiative petition signed by not less than 20,000 voters, on the one hand, and the description of it contained in the additional petition, signed by 5000 voters, on the other hand,” the Globe wrote about the discrepancy.

Since the next possible time to get the issue on the ballot was November 1928, the New England League had to endure two more years before it could schedule Sunday games. “The little New England League finished the season of 1926 under anything but the best of conditions,” The Sporting News reported on October 28, 1926. “The failure of Sunday baseball in Massachusetts to get on the ballot this fall hit the league hard. The owners were looking forward to next year with legalized Sunday baseball.”

Davidson kept the New England League alive for two more years until voters did overwhelming pass the Sunday sports initiative on the 1928 ballot. Doe took a behind-the-scenes role in the 1928 ballot initiative. When the city of Worcester failed to ratify the playing of Sunday baseball in the city (the new law was local option), the franchise was shifted to New Bedford. The New Bedford Morning Mercury noted on February 23, 1929, that former mayor Ashley had been asked to be chairman of the team’s board of directors “as he worked with Fred Doe in the old New England League days.”

The first Sunday games in the New England League were conducted on May 5, 1929. A crowd of 3,500 attended the Sunday game in New Bedford. “The question of whether Massachusetts wants Sunday baseball seemed today to have been settled,” the New Bedford Evening Standard proclaimed the next day. “Virtually 50,000 persons saw professional league games in the state yesterday afternoon.”

Even though Doe lived in Quincy every year after 1908, he was never once listed in the City Directory of Quincy. Until 1937, Doe maintained his official residence in New Bedford, where, he once said, he could continue to cast his vote for Charlie Ashley.

Doe died at age seventy-five on October 4, 1938, at his residence on Billings Street in Quincy. In its obituary of him, the New Bedford Standard-Times called Doe “one of the most colorful figures in athletics during the latter part of the nineteenth century.” He was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in his native town of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

On July 6, 1939, the Boston club of the National League played an exhibition game in Quincy to honor Doe. The Boston Bees, as they were known then, not the Braves, defeated the South Shore All-Stars 11-2 on Fred Doe Day at Adams Field, before an afternoon crowd of 3,500 spectators. Bob Quinn, president of the Bees, was there to give a speech, along with many other luminaries including the mayor of Quincy. Before the game, a drinking fountain behind the backstop was dedicated in memory of Doe.

“The good that Alfred G. ‘Fred’ Doe did lives after him,” the Quincy Patriot Ledger wrote the next day. “The bread which he cast upon the waters during a long and honorable career in roller polo and baseball came back in the form of cake like mother used to bake.”

Anyone who watches a professional baseball played on a Sunday in Massachusetts owes Fred Doe a small debt of gratitude for his efforts to change the law back in the 1920s.


Bevis, Charlie. “Rocky Point: A Lone Outpost of Sunday Baseball in Sabbatarian New England.” NINE: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture, Fall 2005.

———-. Sunday Baseball: The Major Leagues’ Struggle to Play Baseball on the Lord’s Day 1876-1934. McFarland Publishers, 2003.

Boston Globe. 1885-1908, 1925-1926.

Massachusetts State Archives. Birth, death, and marriage records prior to 1910.

National Association of Professional Roller Polo Clubs constitution. Los Angeles Times, September 26, 1897.

New Bedford Morning Mercury. 1895-1898, 1903-1905, 1929.

New Bedford Standard-Times. “Fred Doe, Founder of Sunday Sports Movement, Dies at 75,” October 5, 1938.

Quincy Patriot Ledger. October 6, 1938 and July 7, 1939.

U.S. Census. 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910.

Full Name

Alfred George Doe


April 18, 1864 at Gloucester, MA (USA)


October 4, 1938 at Quincy, MA (USA)

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