75 years ago, Ted Williams hit .400, so read a book and watch a video.


In 2014, I read a biography of Ted Williams: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams, by Ben Bradlee Jr. It seems I never got around to writing a review of it, so for the overview, go here.

The Splendid Splinter (review by Charles McGrath, New York Times)

… Bradlee also devotes almost half his book to Williams’s life after baseball, something that would have enraged the Kid (or Teddy Ballgame, as he also referred to himself), who loved fame but considered his private life off limits. But Bradlee’s expansiveness enables his book to transcend the familiar limits of the sports bio and to become instead a hard-to-put-down account of a fascinating American life. It’s a story about athletic greatness but also about the perils of fame and celebrity, the corrosiveness of money and the way the cycle of familial resentment and disappointment plays itself out generation after generation.

It does no disservice to the memory of my old man to state that he idolized Ted Williams, who could do no wrong in his eyes, whether hitting a baseball or serving his country during two wars. Williams’ military service famously took big chunks from the prime of his baseball career, something that obsessed my father, who was an aspiring baseball player who lost three years of his own playing time in World War II.

Bradlee does an admirable job explaining the many nuances of the Splendid Splinter’s life, these being threads that Roger G. Baylor wouldn’t have been interested in exploring. That’s the difference between father and son; neither good nor bad, just different.

The HBO video is a solid introduction to Ted Williams. It’s not hard-hitting journalism, but not saccharine hagiography, either, although I defy any baseball fan to avoid shedding a few tears when watching William’s appearance at the Al Star Game late in life.

A final thought: It’s now been 75 years. Will we see another .400 hitter?

It was seventy years ago this month that Ted Williams surpassed .400