Hailing from the Deep South, Meridian, Mississippi, Donald Eric McNair was born on April 12, 1909. Known to teammates and opposing players as an extremely easy going and wonderful man to be around. Starting out as a utility infielder on 1930--31 A's, he finally became the Athletics regular shortstop in 1932, blasting 18 HR and leading the league with 47 doubles. A fine fielder, underrated defensively, he also led AL shortstops in errors and double plays in 1934. In the midst of his house cleaning of the mid-30's, Connie Mack sold him to the Red Sox in 1935. McNair was Boston's second baseman in 1937 and the White Sox' third baseman in 1939, when he hit a career-high .324 with a 20-game hitting streak.
McNair was given the nickname of "Boob" after the Rube Goldberg cartoon character Boob McNutt, which ran from 1916--33. According to Billy Werber in his book Memories of a Ballplayer, there was "no boob" in McNair who was a "good natured and well liked" person. He was known for a great sense of humor as well. He was always a welcome and positive addition to any club house.
McNair, who was extremely in love with his wife and a devoted family man as well, retired in the spring of 1943. He managed in the South Atlantic League and had just signed a contract with his old boss Connie Mack, to scout for the A's, when he died from a heart attack on 3/11/1949 in his hometown of Meridian. Friends, family and ex-teammates were shocked by the loss of such a wonderful man. His funeral, a sad and somber affair held in the city he was born and died in brought a flow of tears that had not been seen in many years. Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey sent flowers as well as Connie Mack. In the years after his death, former teammates always talked in high praise of him. There is an old saying that goes, "If you can't say anything nice about anyone, don't say anything at all." In the case of Donald Eric McNair, finding something nice to say was always never a problem.