was Williams stopped in his pursuit of hitting the baseball. As
a rookie in 1939 he led the AL with 145 RBI. His next five full
seasons he paced the loop in runs scored. In 1941, 1942, 1947,
and 1949 he topped all AL hitters in home runs, reaching a peak
of 43. He led the league in walks eight times, and in on-base
percentage a record twelve times.
He was a patient hitter
who refused to venture out of the strike zone for a pitch. He
finished with more than 2,000 walks in just under 2,300 games.
He also hit for average – winning league titles six times,
including at the age of 23 and 40. His lifetime average was .344
on the strength of 2,654 hits.
As a member of the
Red Sox he anchored a formidable lineup. Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin,
Bobby Doerr, Vern Stephens, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Billy
Goodman, George Kell, and Jackie Jensen were some of the sluggers
he teamed with. Unfortunately he was unable to translate his success
into a World Series win for the Sox. In his only opportunity in
1946, he managed just five singles in 25 at-bats.
For years Williams
battled the media in Boston, a fact which likely cost him two
MVP awards. Twice Boston writers kept him off their ballot completely
– delivering the honor to Joe DiMaggio. In 1946 DiMaggio
and Williams were nearly involved in the greatest trade in baseball
history. Fans had speculated as to how Williams would fare in
Yankee Stadium with the short right field line. Conversely, Red
Sox rooters wondered just how well DiMaggio would hit into the
Green Monster. With the preliminaries of the trade in place, the
Red Sox backed out, fearing The Yankee Clipper’s hurt foot.
In his final season,
1960, he hit a dramatic home run in Fenway Park in his final at-bat.
It was his 29th of the season, a record for players at least 40
years old. He returned to baseball as a batting instructor for
the Red Sox and took the job as manager of the Washington Senators
in 1969. After guiding them to a fourth place finish, he was named
Manager of the Year, but by 1972 he was tired of dealing with
modern players and he ended his baseball days. He was later inducted
into the Sportsman’s Fishing Hall of Fame – known
as one of the best fly fisherman in American history. He had been
inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. In his acceptance
speech he lobbied for the inclusion of Negro League players in
the Cooperstown shrine.
"The Splendid Splinter," "The Kid," "Thumper,"
and "Teddy Ballgame"
Boston Red Sox (1939-1942, 1946-1960)
Washington Senators (1969-1971), Texas Rangers (1972)
It's common knowledge
that most great players fail to make great managers. With a few
exceptions, this is true. Williams skippered the Senators from
1969 to 1971, following them to Texas for the '72 season. Thus,
he was the first manager in Ranger history. He guided the Senators
to a winning mark and a 4th place finish in 1969 (largely due
to Frank Howard's slugging), but the team gradually faded over
his last three years. He finished his managerial career with a
.429 career mark (273-364). Like Rogers Hornsby, Williams failed
to communicate well with his players, especially the pitchers,
whom he dislkied.
1946 World Series
No, Williams and the Red Sox lost the '46 World Series in seven
1946 World Series Game Seven
All-Star (17): 1940-1942, 1946-1951, 1953-1960; American League
MVP 1946 and 1949
Ted got stronger as the season wore on - hitting .349 after the
All-Star break over his career, and .339 before. His home run
ratio is slightly better in the second half as well. In 1941 he
hit .405 before the break and .406 after. His best second-half
performance came in 1957 when he tore up the league at a .454
pace after the All-Star game.
American League Triple Crown: 1942 and 1946. In neither of those
years did Williams win the MVP Award; Hit for the cycle on July
21, 1946; blasted three homers and drove in 8 runs on July 14,
1946; collected more RBI's than games played (1949); had RBI in
12 straight games (thru September 13, 1942); RBI in 11 consecutive
games (thru June 10, 1950); homered in four straight at-bats (September
7th and September 22nd, 1957); combined with Bobby Doerr for 549
homers as teammates (Williams 333, Doerr 216).
#9 (1939-1942, 1946-1960)
He was practically unstoppable, and he should have won the MVP,
despite DiMaggio's 56-gamer. He failed to win the Triple Crown
only due to the fact that he refused to swing at bad pitches,
leaving him five RBI behind DiMaggio. Against the Yankees, Williams
batted .470 in 22 games. Consider this as well: in 1941 major
league rules stated that a sacrifice fly counted as a time at-bat.
Later that rule was changed and has been that way ever since.
Had Williams played under modern rules governing the sac fly (he
had six in '41), his batting average would have been .412! Of
the other 11 batters to reach .400 in the 20th century, five wouldn't
have made it under the sac fly rule Williams played under.
Williams vs. DiMaggio
During Joe DiMaggio's record hitting streak in 1941, Ted Williams
batted .412, while DiMaggio batted .409. Williams batted .389
in April, .436 in May, .372 in June, .429 in July, .402 in August,
and .397 in September. He hit .405 before the All-Star break,
and .406 after.
Hit his 500th home run on June 17, 1960, against the Cleveland
Longest hitting streak came in 1941, when he batted in 23 straight
games, hitting .489 (43-for-88), with a .773 SLG, .587 OBP, 7
doubles, 6 homers, 24 RBI, 21 walks, and 32 runs scored. The streak
ran from May 15 to June 7. His streak was snapped by Ted Lyons
of the White Sox.
Williams claimed Whitey Ford, Eddie Lopat, Bob Lemon, Bob Feller,
and Hoyt Wilhelm were his toughest opponents. "I was exposed
to pitchers all my life, making a living off their dumbness, off
their mistakes, but these were five pitchers who were never dumb.
Even after he lost his best stuff - and he had more than anybody
- Feller was able to win with smartness."
Pitching, Ted Williams?
In 1940, 21-year old Ted Williams was rushed to the mound in a
blowout game. The right-handed throwing slugger pitched two innings,
allowing three hits and one earned run. He didn't walk anyone,
but he did strike out a batter. It was his only pitching appearance
in the major leagues.
Hit seven pinch-hit homers; hit two in one game 37 times; three
in one game on July 14, 1946 at Fenway; clubbed five game-winning
homers in 1-0 games (most in history); his 29 homers in 1960 were
the most by any player in his final year until Dave Kingman bested
him in 1984... Like many great AL sluggers, Williams hit his most
homers on the road in Detroit's Briggs Stadium (later Tiger Stadium).
Williams blasted 55 against the Tigers in their home park. He
hit 43 in Cleveland, 35 in Comiskey Park, 34 in Shibe Park, 33
in St. Louis, and 30 in Yankee Stadium... Williams blasted 13
extra-inning home runs, ranking among the all-time leaders...
17 total Grand Slams - 1939 (2), 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946 (2), 1947,
1949, 1950, 1951, 1955 (3), 1957, 1958 (2).
Fiery Ben Chapman, the high-strung speedster. Chapman moved on
to Cleveland in 1939, Williams rookie season. Doc Cramer and Joe
Vosmik joined Ted in the Sox outfield for his freshman campaign.
Strength as a Player
Weakness as a Player