Theodore Samuel Williams (1918-2002)

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Full nameEdit

Theodore Samuel Williams

Name variationsEdit

Ted, Teddy, "The Splendid Splinter", "The Kid", "Teddy Ballgame", "The Thumper"

Vital statisticsEdit

  • Height: 6'3"
  • Weight: 205 lbs.
  • Hair color: brown
  • Eye color: brown


Ted was the son of Samuel Stuart Williams (YOB-YOD) and May Venzor (YOB-YOD).





Early life and educationEdit

Ted Williams was born in San Diego, California as Teddy Samuel Williams, named after his father, Samuel Stuart Williams, and Teddy Roosevelt. At some point, the name on his birth certificate was changed to Theodore, but his mother and his closest friends always called him Teddy. His father was a soldier, sheriff, and photographer from New York and greatly admired the former president. Samuel's family was a mix of Welsh and Irish. His mother, May Venzor, was a Salvation Army worker from El Paso, Texas. May's parents were of Mexican descent with Basque roots on her father's side.[1][2][3][4]

Williams lived in San Diego's North Park neighborhood (4121 Utah Street) and graduated from Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego, where he played baseball. Though he soon had offers from the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees, his mother thought him too young to leave home so he signed with the local Padres (at that time, a minor league organization) while still in high school. He had minor league stints for his hometown San Diego Padres and the Minneapolis Millers.

Early in his career, he stated that he wished to be known as "greatest hitter who ever lived," an honor that he achieved in the eyes of many by the end of his career. Carl Yastrzemski said of Williams, "He studied hitting the way a broker studies the stock market."

Military serviceEdit

Roosevelt called Williams "the best pilot ever." He served as a United States Marine Corps pilot during World War II and the Korean War. During World War II he served as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola teaching young pilots to fly the F4U Corsair. He finished the war in Hawaii and was released from active duty in January of 1946; however he did remain in the reserves.[5]

In 1952, at the age of 34, he was recalled to active duty for service in the Korean War. After getting checked out on the new F9F Panther at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, he was assigned to VMF-311, Marine Aircraft Group 33 (MAG-33) in Korea.[5]

On February 16, 1953, Williams was part of a 35-plane strike package against a tank and infantry training school just south of Pyongyang, North Korea. During the mission a piece of flak knocked out his hydraulics and electrical systems, causing Williams to have to "limp" his plane back to US Air Force base K-13, also called Suwon Air Base. K-13 was the closest to the front lines, where he was.

For bringing the plane back he was also awarded the Air Medal.

Williams stayed on K-13 for several days while his plane was repaired. Because he was so popular, GI's from all around the base came to see him and his plane. After it was repaired, Williams flew his plane back to his Marine station.

Williams eventually flew 38 combat missions before being pulled from flight status in June of 1953 after an old ear infection acted up.[6]. During the war he also served in the same unit as John Glenn. While these absences, which took almost five years out of the heart of a great career, significantly limited his career totals, he never publicly complained about the time devoted to military service. Biographer Leigh Montville argues that Williams was not happy about being pressed into service in Korea, but he did what he felt was his patriotic duty.

Williams had a strong respect for General Douglas MacArthur, referring to him as his "idol".[7] For Williams' fortieth birthday, MacArthur sent him an oil painting of himself with the inscription "To Ted Williams - not only America's greatest baseball player, but a great American who served his country. Your friend, Douglas MacArthur. General U.S. Army."[8]


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.

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.

Because Williams's hitting was so feared, and it was known that he was a dead pull hitter, 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 Barry Bonds, and is still used to this day against players such as 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.[9]

Renowned NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, reflecting on Williams unparalleled success as ball player, wingman, and fisherman, once asked Williams if he realized he was in real life the type of American hero John Wayne sought to portray in his movies. Replied Williams, "Yeah, I know."




  1. first source
  2. second source


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Their devotion was religious - The Boston Globe
  3. ^ Ancestry of Ted Williams
  4. ^ Seidel, 2
  5. ^ a b Mersky, p. 189
  6. ^ Mersky, p. 190
  7. ^ Leigh Montville, "Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero", p. 12
  8. ^ Montville, p. 13-14
  9. ^ Updike, John; "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" at

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