Friday, August 31, 2018
Remembering Ted Williams: Selected Oral History
Remembering Ted Williams: Selected Oral History
Ted Williams and Yogi Berra at Fenway (FrommerArchives)
This is the centennial week of the birth of Ted Williams, August 30, 1918. The Splendid Splinter did it his way. From the Frommer archives please enjoy memories of those who had the pleasure of experiencing him.
JON MILLER: "Geez," they said, “We have this great left-handed hitter and he keeps losing home runs out there so we’ll pull the bullpens in and make it a little easier for him.” They called the area Williamsburgh after Louisburgh Square in Beacon Hill, a play on that phrase.
JAMES JIMMIE GREENE: We quickly found out where players parked their cars. Ted Williams used to put on such a show for us. He'd choreograph the whole thing, line us up and say “Now you girls get in front. Tall kids get in the back.” He looked very Californian, always in a sport coat. He never wore a tie.
DICK FLAVIN: Ted used to say Dom DiMaggio was the smartest outfielder. Every time a ball was hit to left-center he’d yell, “You take it Dommie.”
ROGER KAHN: Every once in a while, Williams would lose his temper and give them the finger. People out in left field would jeer. There was a constant clash between Williams and the customers.
BOB BRADY: But in those years he was the only reason to go to Fenway Park. As soon as his last at bat many would depart especially if the Sox were losing.
ROGER KAHN: At that time, the Red Sox clubhouse closed something like 40 minutes before a game at the request, no the demand of Williams who called reporters the “Knights of the Keyboard.”
IKE DELOCK: He didn’t like the press. He wanted to ban them from the clubhouse. The players said, “You can’t do that.” So he eased up. But whatever he wanted he damn well got.
FRANK SULLIVAN: I went up from A – ball in ‘53. I was 23. I saw buck shot wounds all over the walls and learned that Ted Williams was out shooting pigeons. I heard Yawkey also shot along with him.
BILL LEE: The long-time guy in charge of the grounds keeping, Joe Mooney, told me that the cops came to Williams and asked: “Ted, didn’t you worry about your stray shots going to Kenmore Square?”
Ted was supposed to have said: “You know I was thinking about that.”
IKE DELOCK: Most of the time Ted Williams arrived very early for games. I was like two lockers away from him. He had so many bats in his lockers. There was a certain respect for him from the other players. He was a good-looking guy. He could be loud; you couldn’t miss him. Pleasant when he wanted to be but pretty scary when he wanted to be.
BILL NOWLIN: Ted Williams was my favorite. I thought he was going to hit a home run every time up. I got to see a lot of great play by him as I sat in those bleachers. I touched his home run ball - - I can’t remember if it was Number 494 or 497 -- after it had been caught by somebody else.
JERRY CASALE: My biggest thrill was being next to Ted Williams. How many times we sat in that little locker room and he would take off his pants coming in from a game, rip off his shirt, throw them and hit me with them. Thousands of dollars right in my face. Who thought of it then?
BOB SULLIVAN: Dad wanted my brother Kevin and me to see Williams play before he retired. We were going to go in early and we were going to come back relatively late considering we were so young.
I, of course, was a young Williams fan. And Dad was a World War II veteran, a Master Sergeant, and he was a Williams devotee. There’s a myth now that all of the Boston fanship booed Williams. He was a prickly character. But it was the sportswriters who had problems with him. The fans in left-field would heckle him and he’d spit and all the rest of it, but mostly the fans loved the guy. And Dad, as a veteran was eternally devoted to this guy. His military background, his patriotism, his heroism.
CURT GOWDY (Game Call) "Everybody quiet now here at Fenway Park after they gave him a standing ovation of two minutes knowing that this is probably his last time at bat. One out, nobody on.
BOB KEANEY: Ted dug in, wiggled his fanny, and glared at pitcher Jack Fisher. Everyone stopped breathing. Ted swung as hard as he could, but he missed the fat pitch and nearly sprained his arms. Some dreamers said later that Ted missed on purpose, so that Fisher would be fooled into throwing that fast ball again.
CURT GOWDY (Game Call) Jack Fisher into his windup, here's the pitch. Williams swings -- and there's a long drive to deep right! The ball is going and it is gone! A home run for Ted Williams in his last time at bat in the major leagues!"
FRANK MALZONE: When he hit a home run, it was usually high—it wasn’t no line drive. This time he got it all. When he hit a home run, he had a way of loping. This time his running was like a hop.
TED SPENCER: Williams hits the home run. I hear it on the radio. I said to myself, “Damn, I should have been there.”
BROOKS ROBINSON: I was playing third base. He went running around the bases, and I looked at him as he passed second base. I had my arms folded as he passed me. That was absolutely a magical moment.
STEVE RYDER: He had that regal trot around the bases. Didn’t tip his cap, didn’t look at the stands, just right into the dugout.
FRANK SULLIVAN: We all wanted him to stop and at least take his cap off but that sonofabitch, he just ran into the dugout.That was the way that Ted was. He went down the dugout steps straight into the tunnel. We didn’t know that that was his last game but we all suspected it.