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Quotable Ted Williams





Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Ballgame notes
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com


Signature Game
Sept. 28, 1941 - The idea of his .3996 batting average being rounded up to .400 didn't sit well with Williams. So, on the night before the final day of the season, the Red Sox leftfielder declined manager Joe Cronin's offer to sit out a doubleheader and preserve his ".400" average. In the opener in Philadelphia, Williams rapped his major league-leading 37th homer and three singles in five at-bats against the Athletics. Though he raised his average to .404, the Splendid Splinter refused to skip the nightcap.

Stroking a double and single in three at-bats in a game called after eight innings because of darkness, Williams finished the season at .406, the first player to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930. Williams went 185-for-456 with 120 runs batted in. He also led the majors with 135 runs and 145 walks while striking out just 27 times.

Ted Williams by the numbers

Career Statistics
AB BA Runs Hits HR RBI OBP SLG
1939 565 .327 131 185 31 145 .436 .609
1940 561 .344 134 193 23 113 .442 .594
1941 456 .406 135 185 37 120 .551 .735
1942 522 .356 141 186 36 137 .499 .648
1943-1945
military service
1946 514 .342 142 176 38 123 .497 .667
1947 528 .343 125 181 32 114 .499 .634
1948 509 .369 124 188 25 127 .497 .615
1949 566 .343 150 194 43 159 .490 .650
1950 334 .317 82 106 28 97 .452 .647
1951 531 .318 109 169 30 126 .464 .556
1952 10 .400 2 4 1 3 .500 .900
1953 91 .407 17 37 13 34 .509 .901
1954 386 .345 93 133 29 89 .516 .635
1955 320 .356 77 114 28 83 .501 .703
1956 400 .345 71 138 24 82 .479 .605
1957 420 .388 96 163 38 87 .528 .731
1958 411 .328 81 135 26 85 .462 .584
1959 272 .254 32 69 10 43 .377 .419
1960 310 .316 56 98 29 72 .454 .645
Totals 7706 .344 1798 2654 521 1839 .483 .634
*numbers in bold represent league leading totals

Odds 'n' Ends

  • After hitting .430 at Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego, Williams batted .271 and .291 in his two years with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League.

  • At 19, Williams was nicknamed "The Kid" by the clubhouse boy when he arrived in 1938 at his first spring training with the Red Sox.

  • Williams' first major league game (April 20, 1939) was the only time he played against the Yankees' Lou Gehrig. Williams struck out in his first at-bat, against Red Ruffing; he doubled in four at-bats during the game.

  • In 1941, when Williams hit .406, his on-base percentage was .551, still the major league record.

  • After being criticized for getting a deferment from serving in the military, Williams enlisted in the Navy Air Corps on May 22, 1942. He was able to finish the season before the Navy called him to active duty. He missed the 1943-45 seasons.

  • Williams' average production in his first eight seasons: .353, 33 homers, 135 runs and 130 RBI. In this span, he won two Triple Crowns, four batting titles, four home-run championships, and led the league in runs scored six times and in RBI four times. He also was voted MVP in 1946 and 1949.

  • In his ninth season, at the 1950 All-Star Game, Williams suffered a broken left elbow when he crashed into the wall catching Ralph Kiner's drive. Williams said he was never the same hitter after that because his arm didn't completely heal.

  • In his two Triple Crown seasons, Williams wasn't voted MVP. Unpopular with writers, he finished second to the Yankees' Joe Gordon in 1942 and to Joe DiMaggio (by one vote) in 1947.

  • Williams (.406) also finished second to DiMaggio (56-game hitting streak) in 1941.

  • Williams won the 1941 All-Star Game for the American League, 7-5, by belting a three-run homer off Claude Passeau with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in Detroit.

  • In the second game of a doubleheader on July 14, 1946, after Williams hit three homers in the opener, Cleveland manager Lou Boudreau came up with the Williams shift, with the shortstop playing on the second base side of the bag.

  • In his only World Series (1946), Williams batted .200 (5-for-25) with one RBI as the Red Sox lost in seven games to the Cardinals.

  • In 1953, as a Marine pilot, Williams crash-landed his burning Panther jet fighter bomber and walked away just before the plane exploded.

  • On Aug. 7, 1956, Williams was booed in Fenway Park after dropping a fly ball hit by Mickey Mantle. After the inning ended, Williams twice spit in the direction of the fans. He was fined $5,000 by Red Sox general manager Joe Cronin, matching the largest fine ever assessed a player (Babe Ruth).

  • Williams holds the record for most consecutive times reaching base, 16 in 1957.

  • After a humiliating 1959, in which he hit just .254 (his only sub-.315 season), Williams returned for one more season. At 42, he batted .310 and hit 29 homers in only 310 at-bats.

  • When Williams retired after that 1960 season, his 521 homers were third all-time, trailing only Ruth's 714 and Jimmie Foxx's 534.

  • Williams drew 2,019 walks, with only Ruth and Rickey Henderson having more. Williams led the American League in walks eight times.

  • His lifetime batting average of .345 (357-for-1,035) against the Yankees was a point higher than his mark against the other six franchises (2,297-for-6,671). He hit .331 (133-for-703) against DiMaggio's Yankees, from 1939-51, and batted .373 (124-for-332) against New York in his final nine seasons after DiMaggio retired.

  • In Williams' 19 seasons, the Red Sox finished behind the Yankees 17 times. They won just one pennant and no World Series compared to the Yankees' 14 pennants and 10 Series.

  • Incredibly, Williams was the only player in the 20th century to steal a base in four decades. He stole two bases as a rookie in 1939 and had one in 1960 to finish his career with 24.

  • Williams ranks fourth (behind Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Hank Greenberg) in at-bats per RBI at 4.19 with 1,839 RBIs in 7,706 at-bats.

  • In 1966, in his first year of eligibility, Williams was elected into the Hall of Fame.

  • In 1969, Williams' first season as manager, the Washington Senators went 86-76, an improvement of 20 games over the previous year.

  • Richard Ben Cramer, in an article for Esquire, shrewdly observed that Williams sought fame but could not deal with its fellow traveler, celebrity.





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