Friday, July 5, 2002

The Splendid Splinter

Ted Williams passed away today at 83. 

He was the last .400 hitter, probably the greatest hitter ever to play the game (Bob Feller is on the air now attesting to the fact) -- he definitely had the sweetest swing. He was, by all accounts, a great fighter pilot who saw extensive combat in WWII and in Korea. He was active in supporting the Jimmy Fund.

Baseball and the Red Sox are a part of the New England identity; Ted Williams, moreso than any other Boston sports legend (Bird, Orr, Yaz...) was the living embodiment of that identity. Prickly, brash, reclusive, gifted, generous ... in some regards he's not an easy guy to warm up to the idea of, but the way he dreamed as a kid of being the greatest hitter ever, then applied himself wholeheartedly to that goal -- learning the science and mechanics of hitting, applying his mind and that wiry body of his to the task with single-minded devotion -- those qualities made him, in my imagination, the most fascinating figure in sports.

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