Ted Williams: The Splendid Splinter.
Ted Williams. The name itself inspires many feelings and thoughts in anyone who is even slightly familiar with Baseball history. Usually these feelings and thoughts run along the lines of “The best hitter of all time” or something close to it. I have always been interested in the Williams, probably due to the fact that he was a West Coast dude as he was a San Diego native who spent his first 2 seasons of professional Baseball playing with the Padres in the Pacific Coast League. I love just about everything about Williams. I admired his cockiness as he let it be known at a early age as a member of the Padres that his intentions were simple enough: to be remembered as the best hitter of all time. He pretty much did that as his quest for hitting perfection was well known to all and he was always willing to discuss hitting technique and theory. The man knew more about hitting than anyone else in Baseball at that time and most likely in Baseball history up to that point.
In Boston his relationship with the fans and media was often strained but in the end they all loved him and he loved them back in his own very particular ways. A moment of his career that has always touched me and pushed me over the edge to embracing him was his 1966 Hall of Fame induction speech due to the fact that he made a very important push for the recognition of the Negro League players in Cooperstown:
“Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as anybody else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.”
When Ted Williams spoke, people listened and him giving props to these incredible players during his OWN induction will never be forgotten.
I can go on and on why Teddy Ballgame was great but like all my posts here on 90 feet of perfection, I am going to recognize and appreciate the people who have played this great game via photos I have collected. This is the last man in Baseball history to hit .400. This is a man who hit a Homerun in his last career at-bat. And this is a man who lost 5 years of his brilliant career to the military which leads to one of the biggest “what if” questions in all of Baseball history: what numbers could he have put up if he didn’t lose those seasons? We will never know but it certainly does not cast a shadow of his unbelievable career. Here’s to you Ted Williams, you ruled.
Ted Wiliams and Yogi Berra joking around at home plate as they often did with each other. Take note of this all of you Sox & Yanks fans, you CAN get along with and appreciate each other after all.
A great scene from the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway park. During Tony Gwynn’s career, Ted Williams became both a friend and mentor to him. Their careers were very similar in ways and Williams must have recognized this because he took him under his wing, which Tony has often said helped him tremendously.
A fun fact about their relationship is that Gwynn, who was never a power hitter by any means was told by Williams before the 1997 seasons to start pulling the ball more and try to take the ball out of the park more. He basically recognized that Gwynn had untapped power and suggested that he should utilize it. Gwynn was not very interested in power hitting as he thought it would negatively effect other aspects of his game but he did it anyways. Well, 1997 turned out to be one hell of a year for Gwynn as he hit .372, drove in 119 RBI’s, hit 17 homeruns, and had 220 hits. These were all career highs with the exception of the .372 which he bested back in the strike shortened season of 1994 with a .394 clip. Once again, when Williams spoke you listened.
Williams could hit almost anything as this hitting graph shows.
A great photo of Williams taking batting practice at Fenway park in 1953.
Ted Williams awaits his turn at the plate in old Comiskey park during a game against the Chicago White Sox. Something about this photo captivates me. It’s almost as if Williams is looking at the pitcher and thinking “Throw me whatever you got, it really doesn’t matter because I am going to smash it anyways.“