11 Reasons Ted Williams Deserves More Recognition

Today, March 23rd, marks the birthday of baseball legend Theodore Samuel Williams, better known as “The Splendid Splinter” or “Teddy Ballgame” or “Ted.” While his name might ring a bell, few fans seem to fully appreciate his remarkable achievements and unique personality. Here are 11 reasons Ted Williams deserves a place in the baseball history spotlight:

  1. The Last .400 Hitter: In 1941, Williams achieved the seemingly impossible, batting over .400 (.406) for the season. No player since has reached this milestone, a testament to the increasing difficulty of hitting in today’s game.
  2. Playing It the Hard Way: During the final game of the 1941 season, Williams needed just a single to guarantee a .400 average. After that, he could have left the game, but instead of playing it safe, he stayed in, finishing with a .406 mark, a testament to his relentless pursuit of excellence.
  3. A World War Veteran: Williams’ career was interrupted right after his 400 season when the United States entered the Second World War. He showed such an aptitude for flying that they not only made him a pilot, but a pilot instructor.
  4. A Korean War Veteran: When the Korean War suddenly broke out, the American Military was desperate for pilots and Williams had to put his baseball career on hold a second time. With very little training on the new jet fighters, Williams was thrown into arial combat and nearly died in a crash landing, right off the bat, but he continued on, doing his duty.
  5. More Than Just Brawn: Despite only having a high school education, Williams’ sharp mind and mathematical helped him become a skilled pilot and an intellectually curious man.
  6. A Fly Fishing Innovator: Beyond baseball, Williams was a passionate hunter and fly fisherman who actively improved the sport of fly fishing. He designed innovative fly patterns still used today, showing his dedication to mastery in everything he pursued.
  7. Championing the Negro Leagues: During his Hall of Fame induction speech, Williams, known for his conservative views, surprised everyone by advocating for the inclusion of players from the Negro Leagues. Legendary Heavy Weight Champion Muhammad Ali said he was moved to tears by Williams’ Hall of Fame speech.
  8. A Silent Philanthropist: Williams’ generosity extended to visiting sick children and supporting others in need, all done privately without seeking publicity. In fact, if he found out a reporter was going to be someplace to cover his charity efforts, he avoided the situation all together.
  9. Sports Camp Pioneer: Williams was one of the first professional athletes to establish a dedicated camp for baseball, where young players could hone their skills and learn from professional. These camps, now commonplace, were a revolutionary idea in his time.
  10. A Fearsome Competitor: While known for his grumpy demeanor, Williams was a fierce competitor who demanded the best from himself and his teammates, pushing everyone to achieve.
  11. A Master Hitter: Beyond the .400 season, Williams holds numerous hitting records and was known for his meticulous approach to hitting, valuing on-base percentage and power hitting. He literally wrote the book on, The Science of Hitting.

Williams could be modest at times. Commenting on his service in Korea he once said, “I was no hero. There were maybe 75 pilots in our two squadrons and 99 percent of them did a better job than I did.” But when it came to baseball he was clear about how he saw himself. He wanted to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.” His former wingman and friend, John Glenn, who would go on to be the first American to orbit the Earth in space and a prominent US Senator, wrote in his biography Ted was the greatest hitter, “hands down. And there was certainly nothing ‘bush’ about him as a Marine combat pilot; he gave flying the same perfectionist’s attention he gave to his hitting.”


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