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League Park - Ted Willaims- "The Thumper"

 

Ted Williams

**Theodore Samuel Williams (August 30, 1918 – July 5, 2002), best known as Ted Williams, nicknamed The Kid, the Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame and The Thumper, was an American left fielder in Major League Baseball. He played 19 seasons, twice interrupted by military service as a Marine Corps pilot, with the Boston Red Sox.
Williams was a two-time American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner, led the league in batting six times, and won the Triple Crown twice. He had a career batting average of .344, with 521 home runs, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. He is the last player in Major League Baseball to bat over .400 in a single season (.406 in 1941). Williams holds the highest career batting average of anyone with 500 or more home runs. An avid sport fisherman, he hosted a television show about fishing and was inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame.

Major League Career

Williams moved up to the major-league Red Sox in 1939, immediately making an impact as he led the American League in RBIs and finishing 4th in MVP balloting. In 1941, he entered the last day of the season with a batting average of .3995. This would have been rounded up to .400, making him the first man to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930. Manager Joe Cronin left the decision whether to play up to him. Williams opted to play in both games of the day's doubleheader and risk losing his record. He got 6 hits in 8 at bats, raising his season average to .406. Williams also hit .400 in 1952 and .407 in 1953, both partial seasons; nobody has hit over .400 in a season since Williams.
At the time, this achievement was overshadowed by Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in the same season. Their rivalry was played up by the press; Williams always felt himself slightly better as a hitter, but acknowledged that DiMaggio was the better all-around player. A lesser-known accomplishment is Williams' 1949 record feat of reaching base for the most consecutive games, 84. In addition, Williams holds the third longest such streak of 69 in 1941. In 1957, Williams reached base in 16 consecutive plate appearances, also a major-league record.

Among the few blemishes on Williams's playing record was his performance in his lone post-season appearance, the 1946 World Series. Williams managed just 5 singles in 25 at-bats, with just 1 RBI, as the Red Sox lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. Much of Williams' lack of production was due to his stubborn insistence into hitting into the Cardinals' defensive shift, which frequently involved five or six of the Cardinals' fielders positioned to the right of second base. This shift was a version of the Boudreau Shift, popularized by Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau in an attempt to reduce Williams's effectiveness.

Williams was also playing with a sore elbow that he injured during a pre-World Series exhibition game, while the Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers were playing a best-of-three series to determine the National League champion. However, Williams refused to use the injury as an excuse for his sub-par play.

An obsessive student of batting, Williams hit for both power and average. In 1970 he wrote a book on the subject, The Science of Hitting (revised 1986), which is still read by many baseball players. He lacked foot speed, as attested by his 16-year career total of only 24 stolen bases, one inside-the-park home run, and one occasion of hitting for the cycle. He felt that with more speed he could have raised his average considerably and hit .400 over at least one more season.

Despite Williams's lack of interest in fielding, he was considered a sure fielder with a good throwing arm, although he occasionally expressed regret that he had not worked harder on his fielding. In his autobiography, My Turn At Bat, Williams admits that as a youngster his dream was that someday he would be walking down the street and a father, walking with his son, would point to Williams and say, "Son, there goes the greatest hitter who ever lived."

When Pumpsie Green became the first black player on the Boston Red Sox, it was Williams who made Green feel welcome on the team. In a "movie-like" ending, he hit a home run in his very last at bat on September 28, 1960.

Summary of Career

Williams's two MVP Awards and two Triple Crowns came in four different years. Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Chuck Klein are the only players since the establishment of the MVP award to win the Triple Crown and not be named league MVP in that season.
Amazingly, Ted Williams won the Triple Crown not once, but twice - in 1942, and again in 1947 after missing three years to WWII. In 1949, Williams led the league in home runs (with 43) and RBI (with 159, tied with Red Sox shortstop Vern Stephens), but lost the batting race to Detroit third-baseman George Kell. Kell had 179 hits in 522 at-bats, for a batting average of .3429, while Williams went 194-566, for an average of .34275. A single hit either way would have changed the outcome.

Williams's hitting was so feared, and it was known that he was a dead pull hitter, that opponents frequently employed the radical, defensive "Williams Shift" against him, leaving only one fielder on the third-base half of the field. Rather than bunting the ball into the open space, the proud Williams batted as usual against the defense. The defensive tactic was later used against left-handed sluggers such as Willie McCovey, and is still used to this day against players such as Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and David Ortiz who are also considered dead-pull hitters, and is appropriately called the infield shift.

Ted Williams retired from the game in 1960 and hit a home run in his final at-bat, on September 28, 1960, in front of only 10,454 fans at Fenway Park. This home run, a solo shot hit off Baltimore pitcher Jack Fisher in the 8th inning that reduced the Orioles' lead to 4-3—was immortalized in The New Yorker essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu", by John Updike.

 

Career Ranking

At the time of his retirement, Williams ranked third all-time in home runs (behind Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx), seventh in RBIs (after Ruth, Cap Anson, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Foxx, and Mel Ott; Stan Musial would pass Williams in 1962), and seventh in batting average (behind Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Lefty O'Doul, Ed Delahanty and Tris Speaker). His career batting average is the highest of any player who played his entire career in the post-1920 live-ball era.

Williams was also second to Ruth in career slugging percentage, where he remains today, and first in on-base percentage. He was also second to Ruth in career walks, but has since dropped to fourth place behind Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson. Williams remains the career leader in walks per plate appearance.

Most modern statistical analyses place Williams, along with Ruth and Bonds, among the three most potent hitters to have played the game. Williams' 1941 season is often considered favorably with the greatest seasons of Ruth and Bonds in terms of various offensive statistical measures such as slugging, on-base and "offensive winning percentage." As a further indication, of the ten best seasons for OPS, short for On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage, a popular modern measure of offensive productivity, four each were achieved by Ruth and Bonds, and two by Williams. In 1999, Williams was ranked as Number 8 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, where he was the highest-ranking left fielder.

** - Bio by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

 

League Park Era Batting Statistics

 

  Yr

Team

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

GS

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SH

SF

HBP

GIDP

AVG

OBP

SLG

1939

Red Sox

149

565

131

185

44

11

31

2

145

107

-

64

3

-

2

10

.327

.436

.609

1940

Red Sox

144

561

134

193

43

14

23

1

113

96

-

54

1

-

3

13

.344

.442

.594

1941

Red Sox

143

456

135

185

33

3

37

1

120

147

-

27

0

-

3

10

.406

.553

.735

1942

Red Sox

150

522

141

186

34

5

36

1

137

145

-

51

0

-

4

12

.356

.499

.648

1946

Red Sox

150

514

142

176

37

8

38

2

123

156

-

44

0

-

2

12

.342

.497

.667