There are two Ted Williamses. One has an aberration that drives him to denigrate by word and deed the Williams whose performances have won the admiration of a generation of fans. This season it is the latter Ted Williams who is most in evidence. His batting average has been well above .400, he is leading the American League in home runs, and his performance at the plate was a major factor in holding the Boston Red Sox within easy striking distance of the American League lead.
Before a game with the White Sox last week Williams smashed so many drives into the upper deck in right field during batting practice that Chicago Second Baseman Nellie Fox told him: "You don't need a bat. Just use your fists."
During the game, Williams stroked home runs into the stands on his first two at-bats. The third time up he died out. "I learned something then," he said. "Keegan had a 3-2 count on me when I swung—and it was a bad ball. If I hadn't gone for it, I would have walked."
The fourth time at the plate, Williams swung at a good pitch and drove his third home run of the day into the stands.
"What I don't understand is why everybody's getting so excited," Williams observed later. "I've only played 15,16 games and I got a long way to go. The pitchers just seem to be putting them where I like them."
Before the next day's game Ted was warming up in front of the Red Sox dugout and cavorting in one of his favorite gambols—pretending he was pitching a ball game. Williams would peer in for the sign, check the make-believe bases and then break off a big curve. While everyone in the park watched, he threw hooks, sliders and fast balls. Nellie Fox stared wide-eyed and finally muttered, "It isn't bad enough he's clubbing us to death. Now he's gonna pitch us to death."