THIS WAS THE DECADE OF TED WILLIAMS AT FENWAY—ALTHOUGH THE ERA WAS ALMOST cut short. The Sox and the Yankees allegedly agreed to swap Williams for Joe DiMaggio before the 1947 season. Reason: Williams's lefty swing was ideal for Yankee Stadium's short rightfield; the righthanded DiMaggio's was perfect for Fenway. But no deal was a good deal. Though DiMaggio won the MVP, Williams won the Triple Crown in '47, batting .343 with 32 homers and 114 RBIs.
The Kid had been making an impact on Fenway since his 145-RBI rookie year, in '39; after that season owner Tom Yawkey had bullpens moved in front of the rightfield fence, shortening the home run distance by 23 feet and creating the centerfield triangle. Sportswriters soon dubbed the bullpen area "Williamsburg." If rightfield at Fenway had Williams's stamp on it, so did left, where he played defense—and perhaps just as often practiced his swing between pitches. During DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941, Williams would get updates on Joltin' Joe's at bats from the Fenway scoreboard operator and call out the results to Joe's younger brother, Dom, Boston's centerfielder.
There was also football at Fenway in the '40s—the fine BC Eagles and the not-as-fine Boston Yanks of the NFL. The Sox won only one pennant, their chances crimped when they lost star players to World War II and later by the team's refusal to sign black players. When, in '45, a forward-thinking town councilman threatened to revoke the Sox' permit to play on Sundays unless they tried to integrate, the team agreed to work out Jackie Robinson and two other black players at Fenway—a tryout that led nowhere.
The team made the Series in '46 but lost to St. Louis. Williams hit .200 with one RBI—he'd hit .342 with 123 RBIs that season—and was roasted in the Boston press.