Ted Williams


Ted Williams : biography

30 August 1918 – 05 July 2002

Another incident occurred in 1958 in a game against the Washington Senators. Williams struck out, and as he stepped from the batter’s box swung his bat violently in anger. The bat slipped from his hands, was launched into the stands and struck a 60 year-old woman — one who turned out to be the housekeeper of the Red Sox general manager Joe Cronin. While the incident was an accident and Williams apologized to the woman personally, to all appearances it seemed at the time that Williams had hurled the bat in a fit of temper.

One of the paradoxes of Williams life is that he gave generously to those in need. He was especially linked with the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which provides support for children’s cancer research and treatment. Williams used his celebrity to virtually launch the fund, which has raised more that $750 million between 1948 and 2010. Throughout his career, Williams made countless bedside visits to children being treated for cancer, which Williams insisted on going unreported. Often, parents of sick children would learn at check-out time that "Mr. Williams has taken care of your bill." The Fund recently stated that, "Williams would travel everywhere and anywhere, no strings or paychecks attached, to support the cause … His name is synonymous with our battle against all forms of cancer."

Williams demanded loyalty from those around him. He could not forgive the fickle nature of the fans — booing a player for booting a ground ball, then turning around and roaring approval of the same player for hitting a home run. Despite the cheers and adulation of most of his fans, the occasional boos directed at him in Fenway Park led Williams to stop tipping his cap in acknowledgement after a home run.

Williams maintained this policy up to and including his swan song in 1960. After hitting a home run in his last career at-bat in Fenway Park, Williams characteristically refused either to tip his cap as he circled the bases or to respond to prolonged cheers of "We want Ted!" from the crowd by making an appearance from the dugout. The Boston manager Pinky Higgins sent Williams to his fielding position in left field to start the ninth inning, but then immediately recalled him for his back-up Carroll Hardy, thus allowing Williams to receive one last ovation as he jogged on and off the field, but he did so without reacting to the crowd. Williams’ aloof attitude led the writer John Updike to wryly observe that "Gods do not answer letters."

Williams’ final home run did not take place during the final game of the 1960 season, but rather in the Red Sox’s last home game that year. The Red Sox played three more games, but they were on the road in New York City and Williams did not appear in any of them, as it became clear that Williams’ final home at-bat would be the last one of his career.

In 1991 on Ted Williams Day at Fenway Park, Williams pulled a Red Sox cap from out of his jacket and tipped it to the crowd. This was the first time that he had done so since his earliest days as a player.

A Red Smith profile from 1956 describes one Boston writer trying to convince Ted Williams that first cheering and then booing a ballplayer was no different from a moviegoer applauding a "western" movie actor one day and saying the next "He stinks! Whatever gave me the idea he could act?" Williams rejected this; when he liked a western actor like Hoot Gibson, he liked him in every picture, and would not think of booing him.

He once had a friendship with Ty Cobb, with whom he often had discussions about baseball. He often touted Rogers Hornsby as being the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. This assertion actually led to a split in the relationship between Ty Cobb and Ted Williams. Once during one of their yearly debate sessions on the greatest hitters of all-time Williams asserted that Hornsby was one of the greatest of all-time. Cobb apparently had strong feelings about Hornsby and he threw a fit, expelling Williams from his hotel room. Their friendship effectively terminated after this altercation.Stump, Al. "Cobb: A Biography." Algonquin Books, 1994 This story though was later refuted by Ted Williams himself.