Thursday, August 30, 2018
20th Century Man
The real life John Wayne was born out West - way out West - in San Diego, California on this day in 1918. Williams learned about hard work and stubborn determination from his mother May, who was a dedicated and tenacious advocate for the local chapter of the Salvation Army. Baseball was his way to get away from his home, but also to feed the obsession with perfection that would be a hallmark of his professional life.
His .482 career on base percentage is number 1 all-time. He trails some other all-time greats in counting stats, but in his defense he left his career in Boston during his prime to go fight for Democracy. He missed three full seasons training to be a Navy pilot, then teaching others to become pilots as well. He would return again to the service in the early 50s, missing nearly 2 more full seasons.
His final minor league season came in Minneapolis, and he led that league in virtually every significant hitting category. His hitting coach was Rogers Hornsby, who instilled in him the mantra of "Get A Good Pitch To Hit" which seems so simple, and yet there's very few guys that could walk down the street and have someone say "There goes The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived." More than just swinging at strikes, the mantra was to only swing at pitches that will generate the most damage with contact.
There are very few Hall of Fame players to attempt to become great managers, but such was the personality of Ted Williams. It wasn't enough to know he was good, he wanted to make sure you knew it, too. He came to the Washington Senators (the 2nd version), and immediately saw positive results for the hitters. He did not win at the level of the great managers, but some would argue that he never had the right pieces in place to succeed.
He was the AL Manager of the Year his first season- he may be the only .400 hitter to win that award.