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THE MEANING OF TED WILLIAMS
Robert Creamer
November 07, 2007
IN '56 THE KID WAS AT SPRING TRAINING FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE KOREA
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November 07, 2007

The Meaning Of Ted Williams

IN '56 THE KID WAS AT SPRING TRAINING FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE KOREA

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From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, March 12, 1956

SPRING IS HERE, AND WITH IT THE BOSTON RED SOX and hope. Hope for the Red Sox is spelled T-E-D. It stands 6'4" high, weighs at the moment a bulky 224 pounds and swings a baseball bat as perfectly as a herring gull flies.

Hope stood in short leftfield in Payne Park in Sarasota, Fla., flopping around after fly balls and grounders, smiling, talking with this player and joking with that one, laughing, sweating under the sun. People watching practice from the grandstand looked mostly at the batting cage and the man currently at bat, but eyes kept straying out to leftfield, and newcomers to the stands were nudged and told, "There's Ted. That's Ted Williams out there in left."

When it was time for his turn at bat, Williams loped in to the batting cage as Bill Henry took over the pitching chores. Williams bunted the first pitch and took the second. He swung hard at the third pitch but missed it completely, grunting from the effort.

"Attaway, Bill!" he called out to the pitcher. Then to himself: "Same old Williams."

He popped one up, fouled one off, rapped two or three that would have been base hits, then swung and missed again.

"How can you miss those?" he asked himself. He chattered constantly while he was at bat, to the pitcher, to the catcher, to the other players around the cage. He set himself as Henry threw again. "I won't miss this one."

He hit the ball hard but on the ground. "One more," he called out to Henry.

He topped it, and it bounced off to the left. Williams jumped back into the batter's box for still one more pitch. He set himself, swung hard and hit the ball with a sharp whack! The ball towered high, high into rightfield, and the outfielders turned to watch it drop beyond the fence.

Sammy White, the catcher, said slowly in open awe, "For God's sake."

"Nope," said Williams, walking briskly out of the batter's box and around to the back of the cage. "Didn't hit it good."

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