On September 28, 1941 Ted Williams made history. Always a man of courage, he could have sat out the game, and had a secure .400 season. Instead, in true Ted Williams fashion, he went for it, going 6 for 8 in a double header. Not only did he retain his batting average, but on that day, Teddy Ballgame became one of the greatest legends the Game has ever known.
“…‘‘What a thrill!’’ said Ted Williams in the Red Sox clubhouse at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park on Sept. 28, 1941.‘‘I wasn ’t saying anything about it before the game, but I never wanted anything harder in my life.’’
There are golden moments in life. In baseball, 1941 was probably the greatest season the game had ever known, and may ever know. Not only did Teddy Ballgame finish the season with a .406 batting average, but Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 consecutive games. Neither man was taking steroids. They did it the old fashioned way – with grit and talent.
“...In September’s crunch, Williams got as high as .413 at mid-month, ended the home portion of the season at .406, and a 1-for-7 doubleheader in Washington before the final series left him at .401. He’d been hitting only .270 since Sept.10, and manager Joe Cronin considered sitting him out of the Philadelphia series to protect the milestone. But Red Sox coach Hugh Duffy counseled Williams on the eve of the last series: ‘‘Listen, kid, it ’s an honor to hit .400. I know because I once hit .400 myself [the all-time high of .440 for the Boston National League team in 1894 ]. But it won’t mean a thing unless you earn it the right way. Go out there tomorrow and show ’em you ’re a .400 hitter.’’
The speech was inspiring but unnecessary. Williams already had told Cronin he intended to play out the season. There was no question after he went 1 for 4 in the series opener, which left him at that irksome .3995. He couldn ’t sit now; even though his average would be listed as .400, he knew it would be a technicality. Cronin debated whether to have him sit out the nightcap of the doubleheader if he reached .400 in the opener because of the treacherous Shibe shadows in late afternoon, but again, Williams would have none of it….”
We all have heroes in this world. Ted Williams is mine.
A word for the wise, when you skip school to meet Ted Williams, don’t get caught with your picture on the front page of the local paper.
Ted Williams is arguably (and all baseball is arguable) the greatest and purest hitter the game has ever known. There can be no question of his heroism. If you want to know how good a fighter pilot he was, well, consider the fact that he was John Glenn’s wingman. There were those who flew with them, and I have met several, who say that Williams was the better pilot of the two. That should tell you how great he was.
“…Over the years Theodore S. Williams accumulated a number of nicknames: The Kid, The Splendid Splinter and Teddy Baseball among others, but his squadron mates in Marine Fighter Squadron 311 gave him a new one. They called him Bush (as in “bush league”)-an appellation meant to “get his goat,” according to his operations officer, frequent wingman and future astronaut and U.S. senator, Major John H. Glenn Jr. Although it may have rankled him at first, Williams eventually accepted his new moniker. ..”