Ted Williams : biography
In the second week of spring training in , Williams broke a bone in his right ankle, limiting him to pinch hitting for the first two weeks of the season.Williams & Underwood, p. 84 Bobby Doerr later claimed that the injury would be the foundation of Williams’ season, as it forced him to put less pressure on his right foot for the rest of the season.Montville, p. 80 Against the Chicago White Sox on May 7, in extra innings, Williams told the Red Sox pitcher, Charlie Wagner, to hold the White Sox, since he was going to hit a home run. In the 11th inning, Williams’ prediction came true, as he hit a big blast to help the Red Sox win. The home run is still considered to be the longest home run ever hit in the old Comiskey Park, some saying that it went 600 feet (183 meters).Reis, p. 26 Williams’ average slowly climbed in the first half of May, and on May 15, he started a 22-game hitting streak. From May 17 to June 1, Williams batted .536, with his season average going above .400 on May 25 and then continuing up to .430.Montville, p. 82-83 By the All-Star break, Williams was hitting .406 with 62 RBIs and 16 home runs.Montville, p. 84
In the 1941 All-Star Game, Williams batted fourth behind Joe DiMaggio, who at that time had broken the consecutive hitting streak record and already had a 48-consecutive-game hitting streak by the All-Star break.Montville, p. 85 In the fourth inning, Williams doubled to drive in a run, but the National League was winning 5-2 in the eighth inning, and Williams struck out in the bottom half of the inning in the middle of a rally by the American League team. In the ninth inning, with the American League trailing 5-3, Ken Keltner got an infield single, Joe Gordon singled, and then Cecil Travis walked to fill the bases.Williams & Underwood, p. 88 After that, Joe DiMaggio grounded to the infield, and in attempting to carry out a double play, Billy Herman was distracted by Travis as Travis slid into second base, and the throw to first base was wide, with Keltner scoring, making the score 5-4. With runners on first base and third base, Williams stepped to the plate. With a two-ball-and-one-strike count, Williams swung with his eyes closed and hit a home run, making the American League walk-off to win 7-5. Williams later said that the moment "remains to this day the most thrilling hit of my life".Williams & Underwood, p. 87
In late August, Williams was hitting .402. Williams said that "just about everybody was rooting for me" to hit .400 in the season, including Yankee fans, who gave pitcher Lefty Gomez a "hell of a boo" after walking Williams with the bases loaded after Williams had gotten three straight hits one game in September.Williams & Underwood, p. 86 In mid-September, Williams was hitting .413, but dropped a point a game from then on. Before the game on September 28, Williams was batting .39955, which would have been rounded up to a .400 average. Williams, who had the chance to sit out the final, decided to play a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics. Williams explained that he didn’t really deserve the .400 average if he did sit out.Montville, p. 90 Williams went 6-for-8 on the day, finishing the baseball season at .406.Williams & Underwood, p. 89-96 (The present-day baseball sacrifice fly rule was not in effect in 1941; had it been, Williams would have hit .416.) Portions of the 10,268 people in the crowd ran out on the field to surround Williams after the game, forcing him to grab his hat in fear of its getting stolen, and he was helped into the clubhouse by his teammates.Montville, p. 94 Along with his .406 average, Williams also hit 37 home runs and had 120 RBIs. Williams’ baseball season of 1941 is often considered to be the best offensive season of all time. The .406 batting average was Williams’ first of six batting championships, is still the highest single-season batting average in Red Sox history and the highest batting average in the major leagues since 1924, and the last time any major league player has hit over .400 for a season. Williams’ on-base percentage of .553 and slugging percentage of .735 that season are both also the highest single-season averages in Red Sox history. The .553 OBP stood as a major league record until it was broken by Barry Bonds in 2002 and his .735 slugging percentage was highest mark in the major leagues between 1932 and 1994. His OPS of 1.287 that year, a Red Sox record, was the highest in the major leagues between 1923 and 2001. Williams led the league with 135 runs scored and 37 home runs, and he finished third with 335 total bases, the most home runs, runs scored, and total bases by a Red Sox player since Jimmie Foxx’s in 1938. Williams placed second in MVP voting, with Joe DiMaggio winning with 291 votes to 254 votesLinn, p. 168 on the strength of his record-breaking 56-game hitting streak and large number of RBIs.