Died: March 1, 1974
Married: Gertrude Elizabeth McCombs (died 1937)
Children: Larry Jr., Doris, Edith
Lawrence Joseph Doyle was a second baseman for the New York Giants from 1907 to 1920, except for 1916 to 1918 when he played for the Chicago Cubs. He was the National League's outstanding second baseman during the 1910s, winning the 1912 Chalmers Award and the 1915 batting title with a .320 average. He was team captain on pennant winning teams in 1911 through 1913, and his .408 career slugging average was the highest by a National League second baseman when he retired. He had 1,887 total hits, 299 doubles, 123 triples, 2,654 total bases, 496 extra base hits and 695 double plays. Known for cheerfulness, he was nicknamed "Laughing Larry Doyle." He was famous for the remark "It's great to be young and a Giant."
Early in his career, he roomed with Christy Mathewson, who was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1920. Doyle contracted tuberculosis 22 years later, and entered the Trudeau Sanatorium. While there, Doyle became friends with author Walker Percy, who was also admitted to the "san" in 1942; the two talked baseball for hours. When the institution closed in 1954 due to the development of an effective antibiotic treatment, he was the last resident to leave; Life Magazine photographers covered his last meal and his departure, on foot, from the grounds. He stayed on in Saranac Lake, and died there twenty years later, at age 87. He is buried in St. Bernard's Cemetery.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 1, 1974
Larry Doyle, 87, dies
By Evelyn Outcalt
SARANAC LAKE - Larry Doyle, 87, the baseball player, died at 2 a.m. today at Will Rogers Hospital where he has been a resident since 1942. 1 Known more for his feats on the diamond, Mr. Doyle nevertheless gained a sort of immortality among baseball writers for his words, said in 1907, "It's great to be young and a Giant."
He played for the Giants from 1907 to 1921 except for a season-and- a-half with the Chicago Cubs. In 1921 he was released to become player-manager at Toronto. Later he managed Nashville, scouted for the Giants, ran a baseball school, and gave the New York Police Athletic League a hand.
In the meantime he became the first player to hit a home run out of the Polo Grounds in New York City, earned a .330 batting average in 1912, and a .320 in 1915 to lead the league. His lifetime average was .290.
For his 1915 record, he was awarded a Chalmers automobile which he could not drive and so hired a chauffeur at $25 a week.
Mr. Doyle's baseball roommate was Christy Matthewson, [sic] the pitcher. Soon after Matthewson contracted tuberculosis, Doyle did too and both came to Saranac Lake to cure. Matthewson died here many years ago, but Doyle stayed on.
He was the last person to be discharged from Trudeau Sanitorium, lived at the Northwood (which was destroyed by fire this week), and finally at Will Rogers.
In 1956 the community here honored him at a "Larry Doyle Day," which featured visits from family and old friends, including teammate Red Murray, who had been best man at Doyle's wedding, telegrams from the baseball great, baseball demonstrations, a three-inning Matty League game. (The local Little League is called the Matty League and the older boys, the Larry Doyle League.)
In 1963 he was King of the Winter Carnival, reigning with great delight with the Miss Rheingold of the year, Loretta Rissel, as queen.
Mr. Doyle was born in Caseyville, Ill., a son of James and Bridget Brown Doyle. His wife is deceased.
Survivors are:a son, Larry Doyle, Jr. of California; two daughters, Doris Christopher of Larchmont and Edith Doyle of New York City; and four grandchildren.
Friends may call Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening at the Keough and Son Memorial Chapels. The funeral service will be at 11:15 a.m. Monday at St. Bernard's Church. Interment will be in St. Bernard's Cemetery.
Mr. Doyle's family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Larry Doyle Baseball League of Saranac Lake in care of the funeral home.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 4, 1974
SARANAC LAKE - Saranac Lake paid its final respects to Larry Doyle this owning under a leaden gray sky but with a hint of spring in the air. The famous Giant second baseman died Thursday at Will Rogers Hospital worn out from a lifetime of taking bows.
A mass of the Resurrection at 11:15 a.m. packed St. Bernard's Church with sorrowing members of the Doyle family, his very close friends, and perhaps even more important, just guys and every day people, the kind who filled the ball parks when "Laughing Larry" was the toast of the sports world as a member of John McGraw's World Champion Giants.
Father Roland Menard, the mass celebrant referred to Larry's days at Trudeau when his hopes for a full, rich life were staggered by the disease that paradoxically gave Saranac Lake its No. 1 citizen. He was as well loved and admired on the streets of Saranac as on the basepaths of the National League battlefields. He was never "Mr. Doyle" here in the village... just "Larry" to everyone.
Larry was fortunate in his timing. He was a rare nugget in the Golden Age of Sports. If he had been "all ballplayer" he might have charged into the Hall of Fame over the broken bones of his opponents just like Ty Cobb did. But Larry was a gentleman with rare color and much ability which gave him the captaincy of the team he helped mold into one of the greatest of its time.
In the railroad cars of team travel days he was always singled out by the great sportswriters for the wit and charm he displayed in his role of, leader. Scribes of great metropolitan journals like Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner and Grantland Rice found Larry an invaluable source of comment both cryptic and concise and usually tinged with rare humor so lacking in today's diamond heroes.
Larry counted among his friends those upon whom the spotlight shown brightest. Wallace Berry [sic: Beery], Jim Thorpe, and Joe E. Brown were Doyle friends and fans. In his days at Trudeau their letters cheered him tremendously. It is little wonder that life Magazine singled Larry out as the last patient to leave this famous curing center when it closed its doors for all time. Larry was always "good copy" even in the later years of his life.
Larry shared a part of the legend of America when it was virile, gusty and filled with anecdote and humor. He will live on in the pages of "Alibi Ike" and in the collected columns of sportswriters coming into the literary world at a steady rate in time.
One thing about Larry was that he handled his fame with a touch of humility and just the right amount of graciousness. He always found time for youngsters and even when old fans came through the community he would happily sit on the porch at 9 Church Street reliving the golden era with them. His memory was intact to the very end of his days, even when his eyes had given up the struggle for quick recognition of those around him.
At noon today the casket bearing the mortal remains of this uncommon man was carried out into the streets he loved so well. Those who made the burden light were Forrest Dew Drop Morgan, his sons, Sean and Jim, Dick DeSantis, Marty DeVit and Jack Phillips.
Everyone seemed extremely pleased that Larry Doyle would be buried here in Saranac Lake since it was truly home to him. His one time roommate Christy Mathewson died here on October 7,1925, but was buried in Lewisburg Pa. It seemed fitting that if Saranac Lake could claim such close relationship with ball players as famous as Mathewson and Doyle, at least one of them should be laid to rest in these mountains and close to Saranac Lake.
He will be buried in St. Bernard's Cemetery still a long 200 miles from Cooperstown where everybody though he belonged in the Hall of Fame. He could have walked there on the signatures of those who asked to sign a petition in 1902 as a most logical choice for this rare honor which was consistently denied him.
Larry gave Baseball more than it ever gave him.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 12, 2004, reprinted from May 22, 1969,
By the late Bill McLaughlin
It is no coincidence that they are still writing about Larry Doyle in the big town newspapers. If we run into him on Main Street he brightens up the particular piece of pavement he is standing on. His image is just as solid.
There are a lot of baseball players in the hall of fame that today's generation never heard of. Saranac Lake has been trying to work Doyle in there on a shoehorn campaign for years. They keep writing back from Cooperstown and telling us it ain't a popularity contest.
Doyle made the big years bright because he had the characteristics of a showman. He could make the simple look complex and the complex look simple.
In the days of the New York Giants under McGraw, it was the happy circumstance of many fine sportswriters to travel right along with the team on the road trips and to live and fraternize on a first-name basis for weeks.
Guys like Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner and Grantland rice couldn't write their columns and personality sketches if Doyle wasn't in the parlor car to add the highlights. Half the time, Runyon would start out writing about Chief Bender or Christy Mathewson, only to find at the end he had written entirely about "Laughin' Larry"--the captain of the club and only mentioned the others in passing.
When the story "Alibi Ike" was penned, the author admitted he had no realistic incentive without Doyle and mentioned him to carry the story line into a believable dimension. Joe E. Brown brought it to life in the movie.
Here 50 years later, the popular Arthur Daley of The New York Times is writing about Frankie Frisch, and to highlight the story of Frisch's demise, he uses Doyle to show what the great moments of the sport amounted to in those hectic tobacco-chewing days.
Doyle is full of golden memories, but it is doubtful that he will gain entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Daley in his May 10 column recalls the classic case of rebellion against the strong hand of McGraw in 1926, when Frisch came to the Giants to replace Doyle.
It is said that there is no tougher manager in history than McGraw, and he was always toughest with his captain. Doyle warned Frisch that McGraw was vituperative at the least.
"Don't get alarmed, Frank," Doyle said, "If McGraw hops on me, he'll scream loud enough to hear it on Cogan's [sic: Coogan's] Bluff. "'Look at him,' he'll holler, 'the captain of my club, a bungling miserable so and so.' He will pick on me to get the message to someone else who can't take it the way I can!"
Doyle could laugh it off as the usual spoutings of a man who didn't want his real feelings revealed to begin with. Frisch couldn't! Thus Doyle attained a popularity that outlived and outshone the greatness of many players who superceded him in the statistics.
Saranac Lakers feel there is something wrong with the Hall of Fame when it can't find a place for Doyle, probably the most colorful player of his day.
- Wikipedia: Larry Doyle
- Robert Taylor, Saranac: America's Magic Mountain, pp. 236, 278-79
- Bunk's Place - Phil Griffin's recollections of Larry Doyle
- Baseball Biography Project
1. Doyle lived a number of places in Saranac Lake, as the remainder of this obituary makes clear.