See also Greatest Conservative Sports Stars.
Ted Williams, Theodore Samuel Williams (San Diego, CA. 30 August 1918 - Crystal River, FL. 5 July 2002) was a Major League Baseball player; he spent 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Williams was perhaps baseball's finest hitter, setting numerous batting records without the use of steroids. A 502-foot home run that Williams hit at Fenway Park in 1946—a year that he won the Triple Crown—remains the record for the longest homer ever at that park. Williams batted left-handed but was actually right-handed in writing and throwing. He holds the highest career on-base percentage (.482) and his career slugging percentage (.634) is second to only Babe Ruth.
The son of an evangelical mother of Mexican descent, Williams' accomplishments include a .406 season in 1941, which under modern scoring would have been a .411 due to the lack of a penalty for hitting a sacrifice fly today, two Triple Crowns, two MVPs, six American League batting championships, 521 home runs, a lifetime average of .344, 17 All-Star game selections, and universal reverence. Most modern statistical analyses place Williams, along with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, and Barry Bonds, among the greatest hitters of all-time.
|“||God gets you to the plate, but once you're there you're on your own.||”|
Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by Baseball Writers in 1966. In addition to serving in World War II, Williams also volunteered and served with distinction as a fighter pilot in the Korean War, which interrupted his career and prevented him from setting even more baseball records. Williams considered General Douglas MacArthur to be one of his heroes.
Williams' devotion to the art of batting was legendary:
|“||All I want out of life is that when I walk down the street folks will say, 'There goes the greatest hitter that ever lived.'||”|
Williams had 20/10 vision, and his left eye was stronger than his right perhaps due to having been struck in his right eye by a walnut as a youngster. But he rejected the rumor that he had some kind of supernatural eyesight in seeing the pitches. He said he could not see the seams on a pitched ball, "but in the last 20 feet I could see which way it was spinning."
First Major League Game
Ted Williams' first major league game was at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, on May 4, 1939. He hit multiple balls out of the park or onto its roof that day, the first one slightly foul but others which were home runs. One of his home runs that day went completely out of the park, a feat not duplicated until 17 years later by Mickey Mantle.
1941 season-ending double-header
Ted Williams was batting at .39955 going into the final day, a double-header, of the 1941 season. He could have sat out the games and achieved the .400 average for the year, through rounding. But instead he chose to play, hitting 6 for 8 in the games, and finished the season at .406.
Homer off the blooper pitch
The "blooper pitch," formally known as the "eephus pitch," was so tricky that no one ever hit a home run off it except Ted Williams, in the 1946 All-Star game. But look at the photo: Williams stepped in front of the batter's box to do it, which should have nullified the homer.
Longest Home Run Ever at Fenway Park
Many sluggers have played in the Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park, but Ted Williams' mammoth home run in 1946 remains the longest ever there: 502 feet from home plate. The ball landed on a fan's head, and to this day there is a red seat and a website in honor of the feat.
Return from the Korean War
In his return from being a fighter pilot for more than a year in the Korean War, Ted Williams took some batting practice at Fenway Park in front of skeptics and hit nine straight home runs. Then he observed home plate and foul line were slightly misaligned, and he was proven to be right.
Ted Williams homered in his last bat, before a roaring crowd at Fenway Park. Author John Updike glorified this moment in an article for The New Yorker:
|“||[I]mmortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters.||”|
Attempts to Correct Injustice
Ted Williams worked tirelessly to correct the injustice against "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, who was one of baseball's greatest players but was unfairly banished for life from the game due to a gambling conspiracy by others in the 1919 World Series. Joe Jackson himself performed in record-breaking fashion during the series and did not underperform in any way to lose any game.
Williams was outspoken in an unsuccessful effort, which including gathering 60,000 petitions in support of Jackson, to make the indisputably talented Jackson eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ted Williams wrote two widely praised books:
- The Science of Hitting (1971)
- My Turn at Bat: The Story of My Life (1969)
Both were co-authored by John Underwood.
- https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1960/10/22/hub-fans-bid-kid-adieu (emphasis added).