SI Vault
August 20, 1956
There has never been a major league ballplayer like Ted Williams. No one has ever, for so long, attracted so much adulation for his prowess while earning so much censure for his personal gestures and attitudes.
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August 20, 1956

Ted Williams Defies His Critics

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"The fans form their opinion to a great degree on how things are written about a player.

"This is something that's been going on for a long while with those writers. To hear them, you'd think I never got a hit and that I've been a detriment to the team ever since I've been up there, which isn't so.

"Here's the thing I want to bring out. In the first place, 90% of the fans are for me, but the 90% who are for me are not necessarily the type of fellow who's enthusiastic about his applause. Though he heckles very little, he doesn't cheer much either.

"But there's a 10% up there, the baboon type who's always got his lungs ready to explode. I make a bad play or do something, and right away they start to yell vile names at me and boo all out of proportion, and even though they're only 10% they sound like they were five times as many because they're so much more vigorous than those who applaud.

"When I do something wrong, there's no need of applause. I am not talking about spitting. I am talking about plays, so the baboons really drown out everybody else and they get me plenty mad.

"I do something that irritates nobody in particular, really; something that comes out that you just can't restrain. What's the difference if I spit towards the stand or I don't? I'd like to know what else I could do to display my disgust for the boos and the guys who are up there writing with such a venomous pen.

"If someone could tell what I could do to show my disgust without spitting or making a vulgar gesture—which I certainly am not going to do—I would be grateful.

"But there are four or five of those writers who are forever hounding, driving, digging. According to them, I haven't had a big hit since I've been up there and never got an important hit, never made anything. The average fan in the country doesn't realize what you got in Boston.

"They're always saying I don't hit in the clutches. They'll cite a lot of games when I don't hit. Well, there are a lot when I do. All they have to do is look at the record; compare the alltime batting averages. After all, the best you can do in your life is hit one in three. I get a hit every three times at bat and I hit a home run every 15 times, and those grand slam homers, those are the ones I really like, but how are you going to get 'em when they won't always pitch to you? That's why I don't like to get a walk when the bases are loaded.

"I know I'm not right, spitting, but gee, it's the only thing I can think of doing. I don't want to smile at them. I don't want to wave my hat at them. I don't want to give them a fist job. All I can do is let a big heave, take in a lot of air and go phooey!

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