On This Day: April 13, 2018 — “65 years ago, Ted Williams safely crash-landed his fighter jet after being hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire on a combat mission in Korea.He would return to the Red Sox that August, batting .407 in 37 games.” — Military Support Twitter
“Ted was ready for the greatest baseball year of his life — 1941 — a year that would forever link it with another baseball idol.
1941 was the start of a dance that went between Joe DiMaggio and Williams for their entire career — where you measured one against the other . . . . Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak – a record that was still never been broken and Ted hitting 406.”
“To fans, the Boston Red Sox player was baseball’s Peter Pan: the eternal ‘Kid’ who combined preternatural gifts with a fierce work ethic to become one of the greatest hitters who ever lived.”
History & Facts:
Theodore Williams was born August 20, 1918.
William’s mother, May Venzor, was Mexican-American and an evangelist and lifelong “worker-soldier” in the Salvation Army. She spent much of her time speaking against drinking and about the evils of alcohol.
Ted Williams never attended college.
After High School, at the age 17, he signed up as a professional baseball player with the minor league team — “San Diego Padres.”
After three years Williams then signed with the Boston Red Sox — a major league team.
In 1939, he hit .327 — 31 home runs and 145 RBI.
“Williams turned the “art” of hitting a baseball into a “science” by dividing the strike zone into small segments, then devising strategies whereby he would swing only at certain types of pitches in certain areas under very specific circumstances. This maximized his chances to get a solid hit. By not attempting to hit “iffy” pitches, he often walked, and he habitually led the league in getting on base– something he did more than half the time, an astonishing statistic. Ted Williams arguably would become baseball’s best pure hitter. (Legendary Babe Ruth hit more home runs, but Williams eclipsed the Babe in most other hitting categories.)”
Ted Williams was also a flight instructor in World War II.
He was also a decorated Marine combat pilot in the Korean War — Williams took part in a massive attack outside of Pyongyang, North Korea
He is known for a miraculous landing during the Korean War . . . .
“United States Marine ground crewmen at Suwon’s K-13 Airbase in Korea were alerted that trouble was afoot when they noticed the crash, fire and rescue crews hurriedly manning their emergency vehicles on 16 Feb. 1953. The source of that trouble quickly became apparent when a Marine fighter plane appeared on the horizon.
The midnight-blue F9F “Panther” jet was coming in “heavy” and very fast. Its sluggish movements, trailing smoke and streaming 30-foot ribbon of fire all indicated serious danger. The pilot obviously was having difficulty controlling his aircraft, but he was too low to eject. His only course, therefore, was to try to bring his crippled aircraft in.
An already tense situation became worse when an explosion rocked the undercarriage as the plane approached the airstrip. The stubby fighter plane made a wheels-up “belly” landing, skidding along the tarmac with sparks flying for almost a mile before coming to a stop. The nose promptly burst into flames that threatened the cockpit. The trapped aviator blew off the canopy, struggled out of the plane and limped away, hitting the ground in a less-than-perfect baseball slide.
The plane was a total wreck, but the fortunate pilot suffered only minor scrapes. Later, the airmen at Suwon learned they had witnessed the dramatic escape of the most famous flying leatherneck in Korea; that lucky pilot was none other than Ted Williams, a star professional baseball player who was serving as a Marine reservist.” — By LtCol Ronald J. Brown, USMCR (Ret) – Originally Published October 2002
Williams also served as wingman for John Glenn of NASA fame.
Williams is also known for being a fly-fishing expert, which he enjoyed after WWII in Hawaii while serving out his final duty in the military. He often appeared with Curt Gowdy on American Sportsman after his retirement from baseball.
Ted Williams was married to Doris Soule and divorced in 1954 and he began dating Evelyn Turner.
“Turner and Williams broke up after he told her that she’d take third place — behind baseball and fishing — if they were to marry.”
Williams was married three times and had three children.
“Even though there was not a Rookie of the Year award yet in 1939, Babe Ruth declared Williams to be the Rookie of the Year, which Williams later said was “good enough for me.”
Williams was the batting champ six different times . . . .
- 1941 – .406
- 1942 – .356
- 1947 – .343
- 1948 – .369
- 1957 – .388
- 1958 – .328
“Unfortunately, war intervened not long after the last out of the 1941 World Series. Before the war was over, “Teddy Baseball” would become Second Lieutenant Theodore S. Williams, USMC. His activation in 1943 marked the first of two major career disruptions for military service. He eventually would lose almost four years of playing time at the very peak of his career.” — https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/remembering-ted-williams-marine-fighter-pilot
In 1946, during the World Series, he played for the Red Sox.
He held American League records for the next four years — 1946-1951.
The Korean war began, and Williams was called into active service during the war effort and became a Marine pilot during the 1952 season, until July 28, 1953, when he again resumed his baseball career.
Ted Williams played six more seasons after leaving the Marines.
He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1966 . . . .
“He was also a student of history. During his Hall of Fame Induction speech, Williams campaigned for the election of Negro League players into the Hall of Fame. . . . .”
“The other day Willie Mays hit his five hundred and twenty second home run. (Note: Williams retired with 521. – BD.) He has gone past me, and he’s pushing, and I say to him, “Go get ’em, Willie.” Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be beter. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope that one day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.” — from Ted William’s Hall of Fame Speech
Retired 1960 . . . .at the age of 42.
Williams wrote the book, “The Science of Hitting.” He was a student of batting technique and strategy!
“He studied hitting the way a broker studies the stock market,” said Carl Yastrzemski.
“But I’d not be leveling if I left it at that. Ballplayers are not born great. They’re not born great hitters or pitchers or managers, and luck isn’t the big factor. No one has come up with a substitute for hard work. I’ve never met a great player who didn’t have to work harder at learning to play ball than anything else he ever did. To me it was the greatest fun I ever had, which probably explains why today I feel both humility and pride, because God let me play the game and learn to be good at it.” — from Ted William’s Hall of Fame Speech
Williams had a stroke in 1994 which hindered his mobility.
“A man has to have goals for a day, for a lifetime. And that was mine, to have people say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.’”” — Ted Williams
Theodore Williams died at the age of 83 of a stroke, on July 5, 2002 in Crystal River, Florida
“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”
“[Joe] DiMaggio was the greatest all-around player I ever saw. His career cannot be summed up in numbers and awards. It might sound corny, but he had a profound and lasting impact on the country.”
“Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders.”
“There has always been a saying in baseball that you can’t make a hitter, but I think you can improve a hitter. More than you can improve a fielder. More mistakes are made hitting than in any other part of the game.”
Key Illustrative Thoughts:
Three out of ten is a success in baseball
More mistake are made in hitting than in any other part of the game
It is 50% above the shoulders
I want people to say about me . . . .
A success in baseball, a failure in marriage
Got it when it came to race
You can improve as a hitter!
Not born great — hard work!
The words of Babe Ruth are enough!
Study how to hit!
Baseball before a girlfriend
How to lose a marriage.
Almost died before become great
A godly mother
Able to praise other greats.
Even the greatest will be forgotten one day.
Other Information & Links:
“Williams nearly always took the first pitch, reasoning that the ability to gauge the pitcher’s “stuff” was worth conceding a first strike. He was occasionally criticized for refusing to swing at a borderline pitch to put a ball in play when it might have helped advance a runner or score a run (a recurring theme among sportswriter critics was that “Ted plays for himself.”). Yet, Williams argued persuasively about the great advantage that accrues to pitchers when hitters swing at a pitch even one baseball width outside the strike zone. In a graphic from 1968 that accompanied an article in Sports Illustrated magazine, Williams divided the strike zone into 77 baseballs, with each baseball containing his projected batting average for pitches thrown in that location.” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Williams