Ted Williams : biography
On December 7, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, forcing the United States into World War II a day later.Williams & Underwood, p. 97Reis, p. 36
1942 and Baseball during the War
In January , Williams was drafted into the military, being put into Class 1-A. A friend of Williams suggested that Williams see the advisor of the Governor’s Selective Service Appeal Agent, since Williams was the sole support of his mother, arguing that Williams should not have been placed in Class 1-A, and said Williams should be reclassified to Class 3-A. The attorney took the case to the Appeals Board and the board rejected the case. Angry, the attorney took the case to the Presidential Board. Williams was reclassified to 3-A ten days later.Williams & Underwood, p. 98 Afterwards, the public reaction was extremely negative.Montille, p. 101 Quaker Oats stopped sponsoring Williams, and Williams, who previously had eaten Quaker products "all the time", never "[ate] one since" the company stopped sponsoring him.
Despite the trouble with the draft board, Williams had a new salary of $30,000 in 1942. In the season, Williams won the Triple Crown, with a .356 batting average, 36 home runs, and 137 RBIs. On May 21, Williams also hit his 100th career home run. He was the third Red Sox player to hit 100 home runs with the team, following his teammates Jimmie Foxx and Joe Cronin. Despite winning the Triple Crown, Williams came in second in the MVP voting to Joe Gordon of the Yankees. Williams felt that he should have gotten a "little more consideration" because of winning the Triple Crown, and he thought that "the reason I didn’t get more consideration was because of the trouble I had with the draft [boards]".
After going into the United States Marine Corps as an aviator at the end of 1942, Williams also played on the baseball team in Chapel Hill, North Carolina along with his Red Sox teammate Johnny Pesky in pre-flight training, after eight weeks in Amherst, Massachusetts and the Civilian Pilot Training Course.Montville, p. 108 While on the baseball team, Williams was sent back to Fenway Park on July 13, 1943 to play on an All-Star team managed by Babe Ruth. The newspapers reported that Babe Ruth said when finally meeting Williams, "Hiya, kid. You remind me a lot of myself. I love to hit. You’re one of the most natural ballplayers I’ve ever seen. And if my record is broken, I hope you’re the one to do it".Montville, p. 110 Williams later said he was "flabbergasted" by the incident, as "after all, it was Babe Ruth". In the game, Williams hit a 425-foot home run to help give the American League All-Stars a 9-8 win.Montville, p. 111
On August 18, 1945, following the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Williams was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While in Pearl Harbor, Williams played baseball in the Army League. Also in that league were Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, and Stan Musial. The Service World Series with the Army versus the Navy attracted crowds of 40,000 for each game. The players said it was even better than the actual World Series being played between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs that year.Montville, p. 117-118 Williams was discharged by the Marine Corps in January 1946, in time to begin preparations for the upcoming pro baseball season.Montville, p. 119Mersky, p. 189
Joining the Red Sox again in , Williams signed a $37,500 contract.Montville, p. 122 On July 14, after Williams hit three home runs and eight RBIs in the first game of a doubleheader, Lou Boudreau, inspired by Williams’ consistent pull hitting to right field, created what would later be known as the Boudreau shift (also Williams shift) against Williams, having only one player on the left side of second base (the left fielder). Ignoring the shift, Williams walked twice and grounded out to second base.Williams & Underwood, p. 107 Also during 1946, the All-Star Game was held in Fenway Park. In the game, Williams homered in the fourth inning against Kirby Higbe, singled in a run in the fifth inning, singled in the seventh inning, and hit a three-run home run against Rip Sewell’s notorious "eephus pitch" in the eighth inningWilliams & Underwood, p. 113 to help the American League win 12 – 0.