Who you might ask?
Oh yeah, Ted Williams.
“The Thumper” was born at the end of World War One, August 30th, 1918 to be exact. He began playing baseball at a very early stage in life, progressing exponentially. The young Williams would play in the minor leagues for the then Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres for two years from 1936-1938. Soon he would sign a professional contract with the Boston Red Sox in 1939.
Williams’ big break was when Ben Chapman, the Sox’s right fielder, was traded to the Indians. He would then take his number 9 jersey and begin playing right field.
Williams’ best seasons
By 1941, Williams was placed in left. That season he would play stellar offense, posting a .406 batting average. (The Batting Average or “BA” is a determination of the number of hits divided by the number of at bats of the batter). In an incredible season, Williams would finish a close second to the incredible Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees.
In 1946, the young Williams dominated the league with 38 home runs, capturing the hearts of many and further proving his worth. This incredible tally would also contribute significantly to the awarding of the American League MVP.
The following year he would resign and according to Wikipedia, a trade was almost clinched with the Yankees, which was a straight swap between two of baseballs greats: Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Wikipedia states: “Williams was also almost traded for Joe DiMaggio in 1947. In late April, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and Yankees owner Dan Topping agreed to swap the players, but a day later cancelled the deal when Yawkey requested that Yogi Berra come with DiMaggio.”
Luckily the trade fell through and Ted would go on to have another incredible year in 1949, within which he would once again capture the AL MVP award. He smashed an outrageous 43 home runs and managed to accomplish a streak of getting on base in 84 consecutive games, the most of any player to this day.
After completing his service in the Korean War from 1952-1953, he returned in 1955, the year in which he won another batting title with an average of .356, which would also help earn him the “comeback player of the year award”.
As Ted’s career began to wind down, he was still hitting for a great average. For example: in 1958, at the ripe old age of 40 he led the American League with a batting average of .328.
In true historic fashion, “The Kid” would crack a home run on September 28th, 1960 in his last ever at-bat in Major League Baseball. A beautifully poetic end to an incredible career.
In 1943, Ted Williams, at the absolute peak of his career, was activated by the American Army and became a member of the Reserve Aviation Unit within the Marine Corps. He obtained top marks during his two year training programme. During his service, he spent two years as an instructor at Bronson Field. According to Military.com, he was shown to be not only a great ball player but a great instructor: “While he spent time as an instructor at Bronson Field, he was instructed to fail a third of each wave of cadets. Opposed to this practice, Willaims said, “If I think a kid is going to make a competent flyer, I won’t wash him.”
Furthermore, his baseball career would be cut short from 1952-1953 by the Korean War. He was part of the Marine Air Wing, this time flying more often, during which his plane took many beatings, leading to one occasion where he managed to safely crash land. Once more displaying the incredible talents that the “Splendid Splinter” possessed. After catching pneumonia and an ear injury he left the Marines in 1953.
Personally, I feel that Ted Williams’ career may have been hindered by his military service. However, his legacy is enhanced by those years. It demonstrates his true character and unwillingness to be defeated.
In conclusion, the fantastic Ted Williams was and forever will be one of the greatest to ever step up to the plate. His star studded career, including 19 All Star appearances, 2 MVP awards and 2 Triple Crowns led to his first ballot induction into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. In my opinion, Ted Williams remains a stout candidate for the greatest ball player to never win the World Series. Despite his lack of success in terms of winning the Commissioners Trophy, he has fulfilled his early prophecy as being remembered as “The Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived”.