American baseball player
Baseball player Ted Williams—nicknamed the Splendid Splinter, Thumper, and Teddy Ballgame—has been called one of the two greatest hitters of all time, along with Babe Ruth . Over his nineteen seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Williams had a .344 batting average, even though he lost nearly five seasons in his prime to service as a combat pilot in World War II and the Korean War. Williams, a left-handed batter, was known for his perfect swing and 20/10 eyesight. He would not swing at bad balls and therefore was often walked by pitchers. This talent contributed to his yet-unbroken record of bases on balls, at .482. Williams was also outspoken and hot-tempered and did not cater to fans and sports writers. Yet, he was a staunch supporter of children's charities. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. Williams made news of a different kind after his death in July 2002, when his son reportedly shipped Williams's body to Arizona to be cryogenically preserved in order to harvest the great player's DNA.
Young Ball Player
Theodore Samuel Williams was born August 30, 1918, in San Diego, California, the son of Samuel Steward Williams, who ran a passport photography shop, and May Venzer Williams, a woman of some Mexican heritage who worked for the Salvation Army. Young Ted played baseball after school until dark and even took his bat to school to practice. In junior high, the tall, lanky youth played American Legion baseball and played on the Herbert Hoover High School team. He developed a talent for judging good and bad pitches as a teen and did not hesitate to walk if the balls were not worth striking at. He later said, "Getting on base is how you score runs. Runs win ball games."
Williams played his first professional games with the minor league San Diego Padres, in 1936. The following
season the Padres sold him to the Boston Red Sox, where he spent the rest of his career. As a young player, he was extremely cocky and had a violent temper, often smashing things when he got angry. He was a perfectionist at hitting, and he practiced constantly, even in hotel rooms, where he smashed a bed and a mirror with his powerful swing. A contemporary of the great Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, Williams was batting .400 in 1941, at age 23, his third season in the major leagues. When his manager offered him a chance to sit out a doubleheader on the last day of the season and preserve his batting average, Williams declined. He played the games, getting six hits and finishing with a .406 average, leading the Red Sox to a second-place finish behind the Yankees. DiMaggio was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player (MVP) that year, but Williams won the first of six American League batting championships. He also won the first of his four home run titles.
In 1942, Williams won his first American League Triple Crown, when he finished the season with a .356 batting average, thirty-six home runs, and 137 runs batted in (RBIs). However, the peak of his career would soon be interrupted by war.
Military Service and Continuing Career
At the end of the 1942 season, Williams became a fighter pilot and flight instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps, during World War II. He served through 1945 and returned to the Red Sox in 1946, helping the team win the American League pennant and taking home the MVP award. Although the Red Sox lost the World Series (the only one Williams played in) to the St. Louis Cardinals that year, Williams's reputation as an outstanding hitter grew. He became known as the Splendid Splinter and the Thumper, for his 6'3" rail-thin frame and his power behind the bat.
In 1947, Williams won his second Triple Crown but lost the MVP title to DiMaggio by only one vote, a slight by the sportswriters that Williams never forgot. In 1949, he was voted American League MVP for the second time. In 1950, while having a great season, Williams fractured his elbow during the All-Star Game at Comiskey Park in Chicago; he smashed into the wall while catching a fly ball. He finished that game, but the injury cost him more than sixty games, although he played well during the games he did play. He hit .318 in 1951 but then went back into the military service in 1952 and 1953, during the Korean War. After a crash landing of his fighter plane and a bout with pneumonia, he was sent back to the states. He announced his retirement from baseball in 1954 but then changed his mind and stayed on with the Red Sox, because he would have been ineligible for Hall of Fame election on the first ballot if he quit too soon. He suffered a series of injuries in the mid-1950s, but in 1957, at almost forty years old, he hit .388 and became the oldest player to ever win a batting championship. He hit .453 during the second half of the season. Williams was more popular than ever before and finished second only to Mickey Mantle in MVP balloting. The following year, Williams batted .328, still high enough to lead the league in batting. During this part of his career he won the nickname Teddy Ballgame, although his favorite nickname for himself was always "The Kid."
Williams was known for his indifference, even hostility, toward the press and sometimes the fans, earning him another nickname, Terrible Ted. Constantly chasing the perfect hit, Williams was often gruff and critical. S. L. Price, of Sports Illustrated, once wrote that Williams's speech was a "uniquely cadenced blend of jock, fishing and military lingo, marked by constant profanity." Price also called him "savagely independent." Williams called hitting a baseball "the hardest single feat in sports," and at age nineteen he said his goal was "to have people say, 'There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'"
He might have been the greatest hitter, but Williams would not smile for the camera, and he once spat toward the stands after being booed for dropping a fly ball. He was fined by Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey for spitting at the pressbox during a home run, and he once flipped his bat into the stands after a strikeout, hitting a woman on the head. Boston fans booed him, but Hall of Famer Eddie Collins said, "If he'd just tip his cap once, he could be elected mayor of Boston in five minutes."
|1918||Born on August 30 in San Diego, California|
|1936||Begins career with San Diego Padres|
|1937||Is traded to the Boston Red Sox|
|1939||Plays first season in major leagues|
|1941||With Boston Red Sox, finishes season hitting .406; wins first of six American League batting championships|
|1942||After baseball season, joins Marines as fighter pilot and flight instructor; serves three years in World War II|
|1946||Returns from military service and rejoins Red Sox; hits only .200 in his only World Series|
|1947||Leads American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in|
|1950||Injures elbow after crashing into a fence in outfield during All-Star game|
|1952-53||Serves in military during Korean War|
|1957||Hits .388 and becomes oldest player to ever win a batting championship|
|1960||Retires at end of baseball season, at age 42|
|1966||Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame|
|1969-72||Manages Washington Senators (which became Texas Rangers in 1972)|
|1994||Establishes Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame in Hernando, Florida; establishes Greatest Hitters Award|
|1995||City of Boston names tunnel under Boston Harbor for Williams|
|2000||Receives pacemaker for heart problems|
|2001||Has open-heart surgery|
|2002||Dies July 5 of cardiac arrest at Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, Florida; son John Henry has his body cryogenically preserved at Scottsdale, Arizona|
Awards and Accomplishments
|Triple Crown is given to player who leads league in batting, home runs, and runs batted in.|
|1939||Led American League in RBI|
|1940-42, 1946-51, 1954-60||All-Star Team|
|1941||Led American League in batting and home runs|
|1941-42||Named Sporting News Player of the Year|
|1942, 1947||Won American League Triple Crown|
|1946, 1949||American League Most Valuable Player Award|
|1947, 1949, 1957||Named Sporting News Player of the Year|
|1948||Led American League in batting|
|1949||Led American League in home runs and RBIs|
|1957-58||Led American League in batting|
|1966||Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame|
|1969||Named American League Manager of the Year|
|1995||Boston named tunnel under Boston Harbor for Williams|
|1999||Was honored at the All-Star Game with a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park, Boston|
At the height of his career, Williams was the highest paid player in the major leagues, earning $125,000 a year. His theory was that if he was being paid so much money "the very least I could do was hit .400." He made every trip to the plate an information-gathering session and said in his autobiography, My Turn at Bat, "I honestly believe I can recall everything there was to know
about my first 300 home runs—who the pitcher was, the count, the pitch itself, where the ball landed." His eyesight was legendary—it was said he could read the label on a spinning record and distinguish between a fastball and a curve ball as the ball approached the plate.
Retirement and Hall of Fame
Williams retired at the end of the 1960 season, at age 42, batting .316 that year and finishing his career with a home run. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, along with famed baseball manager Casey Stengel . Williams showed his refreshing humanity when he read a speech he had written in a motel room the night before. He said being elected to the Hall of Fame was "the greatest thrill of [his] life." He also said, "Ballplayers are not born great…. No one has come upwith a substitute for hard work. I've never met a great player who didn't have to work harder at learning to play ball than anything else he ever did. To me it was the greatest fun I ever had, which probably explains why today I feel both humility and pride, because God let me play the game and learn to be good at it."
Manager and Fisherman
Williams took over as manager of the Washington Senators in 1969 and was named American League Manager of the Year. He stayed with them when they became the Texas Rangers in 1972. He then retired to the Florida Keys and pursued his love of fishing, specializing in tarpon. He served as a sporting goods consultant to Sears department stores, designing fishing equipment.
After suffering three strokes in his seventies that left him partially blind, he remained active in sports, campaigning to get Shoeless Joe Jackson inducted into the Hall of Fame. Williams was cheated out of approximately $2 million by a partner dealing in sports memorabilia during the 1980s; his signature was forged on bats and other souvenirs. Williams's son, John Henry, ferreted out the forgeries and started a business selling authentic Ted Williams memorabilia. In 1994, Williams opened his own baseball museum in Hernando, Florida, adding the Hitters Hall of Fame in 1995, complete with his own annual Greatest Hitters Award. The museum is known as "the Cooperstown of the South."
Figure of Honor
As Williams aged, he became a revered figure in Boston. The city named a tunnel for him, and in 1999 he was saluted at the All-Star Game with a special ceremony in which the star players from both leagues gathered around him on the pitcher's mound at Boston's Fenway Park. Among those honoring him were Cal Ripken, Jr., Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire , and Ken Griffey, Jr.
Suffering from heart problems, Williams received a pacemaker in 2000. He spent many of his last days watching baseball on television, saying, "I'll always be a die-hard Red Sox fan." He died on July 5, 2002, at age 83, of cardiac arrest at Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, Florida.
On the evening of his death, in preparation for the ballgame at Fenway Park, a giant number 9, Williams's jersey number, was mowed into the grass at left field, his longtime position. Thousands of people lined the streets outside the park to mourn the city's favorite son, and the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Red Sox went on, after a solemn playing of taps and singing of the national anthem. An empty red chair marked the spot where Williams once hit a 502-foot home run into the rightfield bleachers, the longest ball ever hit at Fenway Park.
Shortly after Williams's funeral, his son, John Henry, shipped his father's body in ice to a cryogenic laboratory in Arizona, to be preserved. His daughter, Barbara Joyce Williams Ferrell (Williams had three children from two marriages—the third was another daughter, Claudia), claimed that her father had wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered over the Florida Keys. The disagreement between the children made headlines, and many scientists and ethicists, as well as fans and players, were shocked at the notion that Williams's body might be used to harvest his DNA.
Ted Williams was indeed one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived. His batting record remains a standard by which many players measure achievement. Six players finished their careers with higher batting averages than Williams, but only Babe Ruth was in his class as an all-around hitter. Sports historians have speculated as to the heights Williams might have reached had he not given up five of his best years to serve his country in the military. Yet, he was much more than simply a great athlete. Williams worked for years, often anonymously, for the Jimmy Fund, a children's charity supporting the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He also worked for the Shrine Hospitals and other charities. Williams was an outspoken supporter of minorities in baseball and worked to see that the great Negro leagues players were recognized in the Baseball Hall of Fame and that players of all ethnicities were made welcome in the sport.
SELECTED WRITINGS BY WILLIAMS:
(With John Underwood) The Science of Hitting. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1971.
(With John Underwood) Ted Williams Fishing the "Big Three": Tarpon, Bonefish, and Atlantic Salmon. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982.
(With John Underwood) My Turn at Bat: The Story of My Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
(With Jim Prime) Ted Williams'Hit List. Indianapolis, IN: Masters Press, 1996.
|BOS: Boston Red Sox.|
(With David Pietrusza) Ted Williams: My Life in Pictures. Kingston, NY: Total/Sports Illustrated, 2001.
Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Volume 19. "Ted Williams." Detroit: Gale Group, 1999.
"Bizarre Family Feud." Maclean's (July 22, 2002): 11.
Corliss, Richard. "A Little Respect for the Splendid Splinter: Ted Williams, 1918-2002." Time (July 15, 2002): 72.
"Red Sox Pride: Tributes—and a Family Feud—Follow Ted Williams's Death." People (July 22, 2002): 92.
Stout, Glenn. "The Case of the 1947 MVP Ballot." Sporting News (December 20, 1993): 7.
Thomsen, Ian. "Boston Mourns Its Hero: The Fenway Fans Paid Their Respects to Ted Williams, a Towering Figure Who Fought the Good Fight." Sports Illustrated (July 17, 2002): 70.
Underwood, John. "Gone Fishing: His Baseball Days behind Him, the Kid Took to the Waters off the Keys with a Boatload of Yarns, a Few Friends and One Mission: Bring in the Big Ones." Sports Illustrated (July 17, 2002): 46.
Verducci, Tom. "Splendor at the Plate: Over Two Brilliant Decades, Ted Williams Proved He Was What He Always Wanted to Be: The Best Hitter Who Ever Lived." Sports Illustrated (July 17, 2002): 10.
Williams, Ted. " 'Humility and Pride'." (Speech on induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame). Sports Illustrated (July 17, 2002): 84.
Baseball-Reference.com "Ted Williams." http://www.baseball-reference.com/ (November 26, 2002).
Bergen, Phil, and Mike Shatzkin. "Ted Williams." BaseballLibrary.com. http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary.com/ (November 27, 2002).
Pope, Edwin. "Finally, a Time to Celebrate Baseball as Wing Opens at Ted Williams Museum." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (February 9, 1995).
Sketch by Ann H. Shurgin
In 1941 Williams hit .406 for the Red Sox. In the 55 years since then, few players have come close to hitting .400, and the legend of The Kid's eyesight has only grown: He could follow the seams on a baseball as it rotated toward him at 95 mph. He could read the label on a record as it spun on a turntable. He stood at home plate one day and noticed that the angle to first base was slightly off; measuring proved him right, naturally, by two whole inches. In the '60s [Frank] Brothers—the son of Williams's friend Jack Brothers, a famous Florida Keys fishing guide—would show up on Williams's porch in Islamorada every Saturday morning to spend the day helping Williams pole his skiff through the shallows. Each time, Williams would bet Brothers one hour's poling that he could cast his line and guess, within six inches, how far the lure had flown. "I lost every time," Brothers says. "He'd cast 112 feet and say, 'A hundred eleven feet, 10 inches.' No marks on the line."
Source: Price, S.L. Sports Illustrated, November 25, 1996, p. 92.
Ted Williams (born 1918) was one of baseball's most fearsome hitters. Despite five seasons lost to military service in World War II and the Korean War, the "Splendid Splinter" of the Boston Red Sox hit 521 home runs in his career and batted .344.
Always pursuing perfection in his sport's most difficult task, Ted Williams was nearly unstoppable in hitting major league pitches. He perennially led baseball in the two most important aspects of hitting-getting on base and driving in runners. He was the last player to hit .400, achieving that mark in 1941. For his total absorption in the game he loved, Williams was nicknamed "Teddy Ballgame." Long after his career ended, he continued to symbolize excellence in hitting and dedication to baseball.
Enjoyed Hitting the Ball
"The most fun in baseball is hitting the ball," Ted Williams told Dave Kindred of Sports Illustrated. "That's all I did … for 20 years of my early life." Williams was born on August 30, 1918 in San Diego, California. Growing up during the Great Depression, he played pickup baseball in a neighborhood park year-round. His mother worked tirelessly for the Salvation Army and his father ran a passport photography shop and worked late hours, allowing young Williams the freedom to play ball until dark. He even took his bat to school. He was a tall, thin teenager who pitched and played outfield in junior high school, American Legion and sandlot teams, and at Herbert Hoover High School. In his autobiography, My Turn at Bat, Williams said "there was nobody who had any more opportunities than I had, along with the God-given physical attributes and the intense desire."
As a teenager, Williams learned not to swing at balls that were out of the strike zone. Try as they might, pitchers could never get him to chase bad pitches. "Getting on base is how you score runs," Williams explained. "Runs win ball games. I walked a lot in high school, and in the minors I walked 100 times.… You start swinging at pitches a half-inch outside, the next one's an inch out and pretty soon you're getting nothing but bad balls to swing at."
Williams began his professional career with the San Diego Padres, then a minor league team, in 1936. In December 1937 the Padres sold him to the Boston Red Sox. "The Red Sox didn't mean a thing to me," Williams wrote in his autobiography. "A fifth-, sixth-place club, the fartherest [sic] from San Diego I could go." Yet Williams would become synonymous with Red Sox baseball.
When he first came to spring training with the Red Sox in 1938, he was 19 and extremely cocky. The legend is that someone told him "Wait'll you see Jimmie Foxx hit" and Williams replied "Wait till Foxx sees me hit." In his autobiography Williams debunked the myth: "I never said that, but I suppose it wouldn't have been unlike me."
For all his bombast, Williams was a driven, obsessed young man. "I thought the weight of the damn world was always on my neck, grinding on me," he recalled. "I wanted to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. … Certainly nobody ever worked harder at it. It was the center of my heart, hitting a baseball."
A Smashing Debut
In 1938, at the Red Sox's farm club in Minneapolis, Williams led the league in hitting but almost ended his career when he smashed his fist into a water cooler. "I was impetuous, I was tempestuous," he recalled. "I blew up… I'd get so damned mad, throw bats, kick the columns in the dugout so that sparks flew, tear out the plumbing, knock out the lights, damn near kill myself."
Williams had a smashing rookie season in 1939, hitting 31 home runs and driving in 145 runs. His fielding was indifferent, but his hitting was electrifying. He had only one apparent weakness-an inability to hit to the opposite field. Standing close to the plate but refusing to swing at outside pitches, the left-handed-batting Williams pulled almost all his hits to right field. Many opposing managers eventually defended against him with the "Williams Shift"-moving the shortstop to the right-field side of second base. But even that didn't stop him.
"Hitting is a correction thing," Williams told Kindred. "Every swing you're changing. Every thought you're correcting. Every time up, you're thinking. My whole life was hitting." If he was battling a slump, Williams might have stayed up all night thinking about what to change.
In 1941, only his third season in the majors, Williams captivated the nation by chasing a .400 season batting average. For part of the year, Williams' quest was overshadowed by New York Yankee star Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak. In the All-Star Game in Detroit that year, Williams hit a game-winning home run. On the last day of the season, Williams was hitting exactly .400, and Red Sox manager Joe Cronin offered him the chance to sit out a doubleheader. "I told Cronin I didn't want that," Williams recalled. "If I couldn't hit .400 all the way I didn't deserve it." He got six hits and finished at .406, a mark most experts believed would never be equaled. DiMaggio was named the league's Most Valuable Player that season, as the Red Sox finished second to the Yankees.
Hit the Top
The 1941 season was the first of six times that Williams won the American League batting championship. That year, he also won the first of four home run titles. He led the league in walks eight times and in runs scored six times. No batter other than Babe Ruth had so excelled in the three most important aspects of offense-hitting for a high batting average (.344 career mark), hitting for power (521 home runs) and getting on base.
"No hitter ever had more confidence at the plate than Ted Williams, every bit of it fully justified," observed baseball historians Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig in The Image of their Greatness. "No player ever had better eyesight, better judgment of a pitched ball, a purer swing, more power, more intense concentration." Legends grew about Williams' 20/10 vision. He said he could see the rotation of baseballs pitched to him, discerning whether the pitch was a fastball or a curve.
In every at-bat, he was gathering new data. "A trip to the plate was an adventure for me, one that I could reflect on and store up information," Williams said in his autobiography. "I honestly believe I can recall everything there was to know about my first 300 home runs-who the pitcher was, the count, the pitch itself, where the ball landed. I didn't have to keep a written book on pitchers-I lived a book on pitchers."
After the 1942 season, Williams joined the Marines as a fighter pilot and flight instructor. He missed three seasons because of World War II, and the Red Sox faltered without him. In 1946, with Williams back in the lineup, Boston won the American League pennant and Williams won the Most Valuable Player award. Williams appeared in the World Series for the only time in his career, but hit a disappointing .200 with only one RBI, and the Red Sox lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Red Sox just missed a pennant in 1948 by losing a one-game playoff to Cleveland. In 1949, they again came close, losing on the last day of the season to the Yankees. That year, Williams hit .343 with 43 homers and 159 runs batted in and was again Most Valuable Player. But in 1950, he crashed into an outfield fence chasing a fly ball during the All-Star Game, and suffered bone chips in his elbow which bothered him the rest of his career.
Pursuit of Perfection
At a peak salary of $125,000, Williams was the highest-paid player of his era. He became known as the "Splendid Splinter," "The Thumper," and later in his career, "Teddy Ballgame," because of his intense concentration on the game. Sports Illustrated reporter S.L. Price observed that Williams "bent his life into a furious pursuit of perfection."
Gruff and prickly, Williams had an explosive temper. Price characterized his speech as a "uniquely cadenced blend of jock, fishing and military lingo, marked by constant profanity" and described him as "alternately cold and warm, bitter and sentimental, obnoxious and funny, tough and generous-but always savagely independent."
In Boston, he was loved and loathed, with critics picking on his defensive lapses and me-against-the-world attitude. Fans sometimes called him "Terrible Ted." After being booed in one game for dropping a fly ball, he spat toward the stands. He never tipped his hat to the crowd or acknowledged their cheers. After hitting a home run in his last at-bat in Boston in 1960, he refused to take a curtain call.
"I should have had more fun in baseball than any player who ever lived," Williams said. "My twenty-two years in baseball were enjoyable, but many times they were unhappy too. … I felt a lot of people didn't like me. I did things I was ashamed of. … I was not treated fairly by the press." Critics said he wasn't a clutch hitter or a team player, walked too often, and didn't hustle. "They didn't think I was tryin'," he told Price. "God almighty, I was tryin'. But I was a long, skinny guy, couldn't run."
What he could do, like almost no one else who ever lived, was hit. "He lived to swing a bat, this tall, brash, fidgety youngster with the Hollywood good looks," wrote Ritter and Honig. "He seemed to be never without a bat in his hands, be it on the field, in the dugout, in the clubhouse, and even in his hotel room, where one day an errant practice swing accidentally smashed a dresser mirror to pieces."
Criticizing "gutless" politicians and "unfair" draft laws, Williams went back into the service during the Korean War. He missed most of the 1952 and 1953 seasons. Battling injuries, he announced he was retiring after the 1954 season, but changed his mind. In 1957, nearly 40 years old, Williams had an incredible season, hitting .388 and becoming the oldest player ever to win a batting championship. But he was miserable. "I spent the season being mad at the world for one reason or another," he said. "I don't think I said two words to the Boston writers all year." After the 1960 season, Williams, 42, retired, even though he had hit .316 that year. Historians would forever debate how high his career totals might have soared if he hadn't missed those seasons in the prime of his career.
Lived with Memories
In 1966, Williams was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. From 1969 through 1971, he managed the Washington Senators and stayed on as manager when they moved and became the Texas Rangers in 1972. They were a lackluster team and Williams had little success as a manager. With his baseball career over, he poured much of his energies into his love of fishing.
Williams remained active and outspoken after retiring to Florida. Despite three strokes in his 70s that left him partially blind, he led a petition campaign to get Shoeless Joe Jackson into the Hall of Fame. Williams was bilked by a scam-artist partner in the sports memorabilia craze of the late 1980s and lost nearly $2 million. His clean, readable signature was easily forged. His son, John-Henry, cruised stores nationwide to uncover forgeries, then opened a family-run memorabilia business. In 1994, Williams established the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame in Hernando, Florida, and established his own annual Greatest Hitters Award. In 1995, Boston named a tunnel under Boston Harbor after him.
Fishing and fending off frequent interview seekers, Williams watched Red Sox games on television. He told one reporter: "No one pulls harder for them than I do … I'll always be a die-hard Red Sox fan." And he added: "… look at what a great game it is.… It's strong, and I'm like a kid sitting in front on my TV watching. … Baseball will always survive."
The Baseball Encyclopedia, Macmillan, 1990.
Ritter, Lawrence and Honig, Donald, The Image of their Greatness, Crown, 1979.
Williams, Ted, as told to Tom Underwood, My Turn at Bat: The Story of My Life, Simon & Schuster, 1969.
Sport, November 1998.
Sporting News, November 14, 1994.
Sports Illustrated, December 25, 1995; November 25, 1996; February 2, 1998. □
Ted Williams (Theodore Samuel Williams), 1918–2002, American baseball player, b. San Diego, Calif. At the age of 17 he began playing professional ball with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. In 1938 he tried out with the Boston Red Sox in spring training, and a year later he joined the club as a regular outfielder. Except for service (1943–45) in World War II and again (1952–53) in the Korean War, Williams played continuously for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 until his retirement in 1960. One of the greatest natural hitters the game has ever known, he batted well over .300 in 1939 and in 1940; in 1941, besides hitting .406 to win the batting championship, he led the American League in home runs (37). In 1942 the tall, rangy left-hander, known as the
was again top batter in the major leagues with a .356 average, while leading the American League in home runs (36) and runs batted in (137).
Williams, controversial to some baseball fans due to his generally abrasive personality and frequently abusive behavior, particularly evident in his relationship with the press, helped lead the Red Sox to a pennant in 1946. Although opposing teams often employed the "Williams shift" —moving fielders toward right field, where Williams customarily drove his base hits—he continued to lead the league in batting in 1947 with .343, in 1948 with .369, in 1957 with .388, and in 1958 with .328. Williams had a lifetime batting average of .344 and hit a total of 521 home runs. He managed the Washington Senators from 1969 to 1971 and remained manager when the club became (1972) the Texas Rangers, retiring shortly afterward. After his death, Williams' body was the subject of highly publicized litigation among his children. His son and a daughter had had his body and head cryonically frozen, but their half-sister, who dropped her lawsuit after several months, asserted that Williams had wanted to be cremated.
See his autobiography, My Turn at Bat (1970, repr. 1988), and The Science of Hitting (1972), both coauthored by J. Underwood; biographies by L. Montville (2004) and B. Bradlee, Jr. (2013).