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"Today, I Am Thinking About A Lot Of Things": Ted Williams' Hall of Fame Induction Speech, 1966
National Baseball Hall of Fame; "My Turn At Bat: The Story of My Life" (published 1969)
| Ted Williams
Posted on 07/05/2002 3:38:21 PM PDT by BluesDuke
I guess every player thinks about going into the Hall of Fame. Now that the moment has come for me, I find it difficult to say what is really in my heart. But I know it is the greatest thrill of my life. I received two hundred and eighty-odd votes from the writers. I know I didn't have two hundred and eighty-odd close friends among the writers. I know they voted for me because they felt in their minds, and some in their hearts, that I rated it, and I want to say to them: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Today I am thinking about a lot of things. I am thinking of my playground director in San Diego, Rodney Luscomb, and my high school coach, Wos Caldwell, and my managers, who had such patience with me and helped me so much - Frank Shellenback, Donie Bush, Joe Cronin, and Joe McCarthy. I am thinking of Eddie Collins, who had so much faith in me - and to be in the Hall of Fame with him particularly, as well as those other great players, is a great honour. I'm sorry Eddie isn't here today.
I'm thinking, too, of Tom Yawkey. I have always said it: Tom Yawkey is the greatest owner in baseball I was luck to have played on the club he owned and I'm grateful to him for being here today.
But I'd not be leveling if I left it at that. Ballplayers are not born great. They're not born great hitters or pitchers or managers, and luck isn't the big factor. No one has come up with a substitute for hard work. I've never met a great player who didn't have to work harder at learning to play ball than anything else he ever did. To me it was the greatest fun I ever had, which probably explains why today I feel both humility and pride, because God let me play the game and learn to be good at it.
The other day Willie Mays hit his five hundred and twenty second home run. (Note: Williams retired with 521. - BD.) He has gone past me, and he's pushing, and I say to him, "Go get 'em, Willie." Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be beter. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope that one day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren't given the chance.
As time goes on I'll be thinking baseball, teaching baseball and arguing for baseball to keep it right on top of American sports, just as it is in Japan, Mexico, Venezuela, and other Latin and South American countries. I know Casey Stengel feels the same way (Note: Stengel was inducted into the Hall of Fame the same day; he was scheduled to speak following Williams. - BD.)...I also know I'll lose a dear friend if I don't stop talking. I'm eating into his time, and that is unforgivable. So in closing, I'm grateful and know how lucky I was to have been born an American and had a chance to play the game I loved, the greatest game.
KEYWORDS: baseball; bostonredsox; halloffame; literature; negroleagues; tedwilliams
When he transcribed the speech into his memoir (and it is a wonderful reading memoir) My Turn At Bat, Williams followed with this sentence: And baseball is the greatest game, great enough to survive the raps it takes and the raps it deserves.
He went on to a pertinent statement on what the governors of the game had done wrong and what they could do to make it right. Among other things, he advocated a 140-game schedule, even in the expansion era, to get the game out of the bad weather. It may yet be worth pondering, even with the broadcasting revenues, on this ground: You can generate or re-generate interest - which baseball deserves - by a little scarcity. Perhaps aside from restoring proper championship rounds (away with the wild card! Back to two-division leagues! Three-of-five League Championship Series! Real pennant races! Protect the Serious, as Ring Lardner called it) this, too, might yet bring the patient back from his illness.
Meanwhile, those (such as I) who have appreciated that the Hall of Fame did it right in due course and did do proper honour to the great black players of the pre-Robinson era, as you see above - they had (and have) Ted Williams to thank for it.
posted on 07/05/2002 3:38:21 PM PDT
To: 2Trievers; Charles Henrickson; Cagey; hobbes1; doug from upland; mware; big'ol_freeper; ...
Remembering the Splinter...
posted on 07/05/2002 3:42:45 PM PDT
At Fenway Park, they have just done a memorial for Mr. Williams. The announcer finished, appropriately, with the words Ted Williams himself hoped people would say when remembering him: There goes...the greatest hitter who ever lived! The crowd at the game gave him a standing ovation; his uniform number 9 is cut into the grass in left field, and now...the silence. The Red Sox wear black armbands on their right uniform sleeves with a black number 9 above the band. An honour guard stands for him and "Taps" is being blown.
God rest Ted Williams.
posted on 07/05/2002 4:04:48 PM PDT
"The batter has three strike zones: his own, the opposing pitcher's, and the umpire's. The umpire's zone is defined by the rule book, but it's also more importantly defined by the way the umpire works. A good umpire is consistent so you can learn his strike zone. The batter has a strike zone in which he considers the pitch the right one to hit. The pitchers have zones where they are most effective. Once you know the pitcher and his zone you can get set for a particular pitch."
Theodore Samuel "Ted" Williams
Boston Red Sox
posted on 07/05/2002 4:27:35 PM PDT
thanks for the ping
Ted Williams is #2 all-time in slugging percentage at .634, second to Babe Ruth's .692. Williams is #1 all-time in on-base percentage at .481 (Ruth is second at .469).
In 1941, when he was 22-23, Ted Williams hit .406 with 37 home runs, a .551 on-base percentage, and a .735 slugging percentage. He led the majjor leagues in all those categories. And he struck out 27 times in 456 at-bats.
In 1957, when he was 38-39, Williams hit .388 with 38 home runs, a .526 on-base percentage, and a .731 slugging percentage. He led the major leagues in all those categories, except home runs. And he struck out 43 times in 420 at-bats.
He did not play at all in 1943, 1944, and 1945, when he was 24-27. He played only a little bit in 1952 and 1953, when he was 33-35. So he missed almost five full seasons in the prime of his career, when his numbers would have been at their highest.
What a hitter.
To: Charles Henrickson
The underappreciated Ted Williams batting stat: his walks. For such a virtuoso hitter, it was probably testament to his batting eye and senses that he drew as many walks as he drew (practically double or more those of his contemporary DiMaggio). And to think there were those who deemed it a sign of weakness - as if you're costing your team something by getting on base, period (this is an argument a lot of know-nothing Philadelphia writers liked making about Mike Schmidt...oh, the horror! He's walking too much! He's costing his team runs! like you rob your team of chances for runs if you get on base by a walk). Meanwhile, the Splinter comes out third on the all-time walks list (he led his league eight times in the category) and is fifteenth on the all-time runs scored list (he led his league six times). Ted Williams may have loved nothing better than ripping solid hits, but anyone who said this guy was costing his team runs should have been drummed out of the sportswriting business.
The intriguing subsidiary Ted Williams stat: Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice and in neither of those seasons was he named the league's Most Valuable Player. Even allowing for the jobbing of 1947 (when sportswriter Mel Webb bragged about leaving Williams off his ballot entirely, for spite, with Williams needing only two points that even a tenth-place ballot spot would have provided to win the award), this is a fascinating tally, since Triple Crown winners have otherwise always been named their league's MVP (think Mickey Mantle, Al Rosen, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski) in the era of the MVP award.
posted on 07/06/2002 6:07:57 AM PDT
Thanks for the post. I'm a Sox fan and can't get the game on TV down here in SC. Here is something I posted about Ted on another thread:
I had the opportunity to go to Ted William's Baseball Camp in Lakeville, MA during the magical summer of '67 (Impossible Dream Red Sox). I was there for three weeks, played baseball for 8 hours a day. Ted came for a visit during the end of my first week there. He would stand behind the backstop while we hit, a constant flow of comments, critcisms, and suggestions. I'm sure that he imagined himself being in our place and this was a carbon copy of the way he talked to himself while at bat.
The next day it rained all day. Here we were, a couple hundred baseball junkies aged 9-18 with nothing to do. We even tried playing catch indoors. After lunch, (Ted ate with us although he sat a table with the counselors/coaches) Ted started talking about hitting a baseball. He talked for almost three hours. Nobody moved, everyone (even the 8 year olds) sat in awe, listening intently. He talked with a passion, an excitement that you rarely see anymore. He would get up with a bat in hand, demonstrating the proper angle of a swing, explaining adjustments that you needed to make in an at bat, etc.
He did all this using the Socratic method (that Boswell referred to in his article), asking questions in that big voice of his and then excitedly barking out the answer. All the while a couple hundred kids that loved baseball sat under the tent on picnic tables in awe of a man bigger than life. Bless you Teddy Ballgame...
posted on 07/06/2002 9:35:59 AM PDT
:) It was the Impossible Dream season of 1967 that made a Red Sox fan out of me in the first place. I lived on Long Island then (in Long Beach; we'd moved from the Bronx a few years earlier), and I could pick up Red Sox games on a UHF (remember UHF?!) transmission of a Boston station (I remember Mel Parnell, the former fine Red Sox pitcher, being one of the announcers) and, weak though it often was, I'd be watching the games and get hooked. Being a Met fan already, it was no great shake to take the Red Sox on, too, though it sure did cause me brain pains in 1986! I remember going out with saved allowance and buying a Red Sox cap to go with my Mets cap - I found out later this cap had the 1949 cap logo on it! (The red-on-white B in the 1949 cap was slightly wider in the letter line than the B in use since the mid-1950s and still on the cap today.) I wish to God I had saved those two caps, even though they wouldn't fit me today. I'm waiting until pay day to order a new 1949 replica Red Sox cap in my size, unfortunately, because I'm busted until then! But I remember watching both the pennant clincher game and the 1967 World Series.
Alas, as you might expect, I have known only too much heartache, endemic and unnecessary alike, at the hands of my Mets and my Red Sox. (I still say John McNamara was the real goat of the 1986 World Series, even if either team's win would have satisfied me.) But I did love it when I spotted Ted Williams at the Fenway games for the 1986 Series with Tom Yawkey's widow. To this day I believe that if more of his fellow owners had been like Tom Yawkey, baseball wouldn't be facing even a tenth of the labour and money troubles it faces today.
I also attended Ted Williams Baseball Camp in 1967. I was 11 years old at that time. My memories of the experience closely mirror yours; Ted making appearances, standing behind the batting cage, always wearing a white shirt (right?), having his meals with the coaches. These were among the best days of my life. My name is Neil Kozarsky. How old were you in '67? Did you know me? I played by day and was the bat boy for the big guys at night. That love for the game got me into the Hall of Fame.
posted on 04/29/2004 6:25:51 PM PDT
"How old were you in '67? Did you know me?"
I was 15 years old and played second base. I don't think that I knew you. Were you there in June?
posted on 04/30/2004 7:15:46 AM PDT
Wow, sorry it took so long to get back. You were definitely older than me at camp. I was there in June, 1967. I would remember your name if I knew you. Remember Mr. Camacho? John Casey? Mr. Cassidy? My brother Alan was also there. I want to get back to softball when I can find the time. Played some baseball at Hobart College- standing triple as freshman in first varsity game/first college at-bat...still remember the pitch. Take care.
posted on 11/18/2004 9:17:21 PM PST
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