Mike and Ted had
a warm feeling for each other, a mutual admiration society. But Donie Bush, the
Minneapolis manager, couldn't stand it when Ted would walk after a ball in the
outfield—which he would do now and then. Williams was such a wonderful hitter
that the crowd always expected him to hit, every time. That went on all through
his career. Whenever he made out, they booed him. I know that at Minneapolis he
could hit home runs his first two times at bat, but if he struck out or popped
up the third time the crowd would get on him. He was just a young kid, and his
feelings would be hurt. If a ball was hit to him in the outfield the next
inning, he'd walk after it. I saw Donie Bush pull him right out of a game when
Ted did that once. But old Mike called Donie in, and he said, "Don't you
ever take that boy out of a ball game again. You can't take a player like him
out. Where will we ever see another like him?"
Then Mike got
hold of Frank Bowman, the trainer, who later worked with the Giants, and he
said, "Tell the boy I want to see him." When Ted came up to his office,
instead of bawling him out about walking after the ball Mike put his arm around
his shoulders and said, "You know, I used to do the same thing when I was a
kid." And he would talk so gently and so skillfully that by the time Ted
left the office he was practically crying. Williams often told me, "There
was nobody else ever like Mike."
They had a
special promotion one night in Minneapolis. They called it Centennial Night,
and they had 13,000 people there in that old Nicollet Field. How they got
13,000 in that place I don't know. They were hanging from the eaves. Oh, it was
jammed. Williams hit two home runs, and they were tremendous. They landed on
the building across the street from the outfield fence. And then in the last of
the ninth he came to bat with the bases loaded, two out and Minneapolis behind
by a run. The count went to three and two. I was umpiring behind the plate. The
crowd was yelling for another home run, or any kind of a base hit, or even a
walk to force in the tying run. And I ended the ball game by calling Williams
out on strikes on a pitch right at his knees.
Donie Bush was
coaching at third base, and he came running in.
he yelled. "It was down by his ankles. It was on the ground." A low
pitch is always on the ground, and a high one is always over his head. The
crowd was furious. Bush was yelling at me, and the fans were booing.
Then Williams did
something I'll never forget, and it is one of the reasons I consider him a
close friend of mine in baseball. He looked at Donie Bush and he shook his
Donie," he said. "It was a good pitch. It was a perfect strike, right
at the knees. I should have hit it."
I could have
thrown my arms around him.
I walked off the
field and I thought, "What a man that is." I never had anyone else in
my career do anything like that.
Another time, in
the 1947 All-Star Game, I called Williams out on strikes again. It was in the
Cubs' park in Chicago. I think Ewell Blackwell was pitching, and I called Ted
out on a low pitch, a bad pitch. As soon as I called it, I knew I had made a
mistake. The pitch was too low. I should have called it a ball. Here I had
called Ted Williams out on strikes on a bad pitch in an All-Star Game. You know
what he did? He put his bat on his shoulder, and he walked away. He didn't say