In actual combat, Williams seems as eager as a rookie. Before, when Williams hit a home run, he trotted around the bases, face set, and accepted the few congratulatory handclasps with all the warmth of the bonefish he likes to catch during the off-season. Now he clearly shows his joy and, when he gets back to the dugout, the whole squad, including Higgins, climbs all over him, pounding his back and shouting obscene pleasantries.
Whatever the reasons behind this marvelous temperamental transformation, its impact on the Red Sox is noticeable off the field as well as on. The old Williams was respected and sometimes feared by his teammates, but was not much liked and was seldom publicly praised. Now listen: "He's fantastic," says Eddie Joost. "The greatest, that's all," adds Hatton. And Higgins, when informed at one point that Williams was hitting .415, only nodded and said: "That's about right for him. That's the level hitter he is. I often wonder why he doesn't hit .500 every season."
As an example of the responsibility Ted bears, and the Red Sox's faith that he will meet it, consider an occurrence in the June 10 game against Detroit. With the score tied and two out, Klaus lined a double down the right field line. When everyone looked up at second base, however, Billy wasn't there—he'd stopped at first. Later he explained his actions. "I figured if I went to second, leaving first base open, they'd walk Ted. If I stayed on first, they'd pitch to him and we might get some runs." Klaus was perfectly right. The Tigers pitched to Williams. He hit a 3-1 pitch into the right field seats.