Theodore Samuel Williams
Nicknames: The Kid, The Thumper, The Splendid Splinter
Born: Aug. 30, 1918 in San Diego, Calif.
Died: July 5, 2002
Debut: 1939 | Pos: OF
Ht: 6'3" | Wt: 205 | B: L | T: R
>> Visit the Ted Williams biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
Ted Williams, a member of baseball's Hall of Fame and one of the most famous Boston Red Sox, died on July 5, 2002 at the age of 83.
The "Splendid Splinter" had suffered through a number of ailments in recent years including a series of strokes and congestive heart failur. He was pronounced dead on July 5 at 8:49 a.m. as the result of cardiac arrest.
Williams had a lifetime batting average of .344 and hit 521 home runs. His career was put on hold twice as he served the U.S. as a Marine pilot in World War II and the Korean War. Williams took particular pride in his abilities as a hitter and revered being known as one of the greatest hitters ever in the game.
In 1941, he hit .406 after getting 6 hits in a double-header on the last day of the season. He became the last man to ever hit .400 in the major leagues. Williams won a triple crown and won the AL MVP honor twice.
Williams stories of hitting including being able to see the stitches as the ball was coming to the plate and he claimed he could see the ball the moment it made impact with the bat.
"A round ball, a round bat, curves, sliders, knuckleballs, upside down and a ball coming in at 90 to 100 miles an hour, it's a pretty lethal thing,'' he said.
Williams worked hard at his craft and put in hours of practice. However, he is described as always being obliging to players who wanted to talk about hitting -- no matter what team colors they wore.
One of the more emotional memories of Ted Williams came during the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park in Boston. As the living Hall of Fame members were introduced, Williams rode a golf cart out to the pitcher's mound to throw out the first pitch. Before he had a chance to throw, a throng of current and past players surrounded him -- many with tears in their eyes.
San Diego's Tony Gwynn helped Williams to stand and held him up as Williams threw the first pitch to Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk.
"Wasn't it great!'' Williams said, as reported in wire reports. "`I can only describe it as great. It didn't surprise me all that much because I know how these fans are here in Boston. They love this game as much as any players and Boston's lucky to have the faithful Red Sox fans. They're the best."
As a player, Williams had a battle with the Boston fans. He refused to tip his hat after hitting home runs. That tradition carried over to his final at-bat at the age of 42 when he hit a home run.
Going into the final day of the 1941 season, Ted Williams had a .3996 average. Rounded off to 3-digits, Williams would have been credited with a .400 average. Joe Cronin, Red Sox manager, asked Williams if he wanted to sit out the double-header to clinch the .400 mark. Williams refused, played both games and went 6-for-8 to raise his average to .406.
He led the league with 37 home runs that year and posted a .735 slugging percentage. Joe DiMaggio, who had a record 56-game hitting streak, won the MVP, however.
In 1942, Williams won the Triple Crown with 36 home runs, 137 RBIs and a .356 average. Joe Gordon of the Yankees, who hit .322 with 18 HRs and 103 RBIs, was named AL MVP.
In 1947, Williams won the Triple Crown again -- with 32 HRs, 114 RBIs and a .343 average. Once again, he lost out on the MVP to DiMaggio (.315, 20 HR, 97 RBI).
At one point, Williams and DiMaggio were apparently close to being traded for each other, but the deal was called off.
"He was the best pure hitter I ever saw. He was feared," DiMaggio said in 1991, 50 years after their 1941 feats.
In 1958, at the age of 40, Williams won the AL batting title and became the oldest player to ever do so. In 1966, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
After retiring from the game, he managed the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers in 1969 to 1972. His number 9 was retired by the Red Sox in 1984.
With a dependent mother, Williams received a military deferment from his draft board in 1942. When that season ended, though, he enlisted, becoming a Marine flier. In 1946, he returned to lead the Red Sox to the pennant and his first MVP award. As a member of the Marine Reserves, was called up as a jet pilot in 1952. After combat service as a fighter pilot in Korea, he rejoined the Red Sox late in the 1953 season.
In 1995, Boston dedicated a $2.3 billion harbor tunnel bearing Williams' name.
He was married three times and had three children.
Sources: Associated Press, Total Baseball