Cover: Facing Ted Williams, published by Sports Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing

Facing Ted Williams

Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams is one of the best hitters that ever lived. If I had to choose the hitters that would appear in a baseball version of Mount Rushmore, it would not be limited to four players. The players I would have would be Williams, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

Williams finished his career with 521 home runs and 2,654 career hits. However, he lost five seasons to military service. If one takes away missing those 5 (3 for World War 2 and 2 partial seasons for the Korean War) seasons, Williams likely finishes with close to 3,600 career hits (career average of 188 hits per season) and 706 career home runs (average of 37 home runs per season). I’m judging those based on his career averages per season. It’s possible that he could have hit even more.

It is always fascinating to look at Williams stats and ponder what could have been. The same goes for a hitter like Hank Greenberg. He was never quite the same after coming back from World War 2.

I recently visited the Ted Williams Museum and Hitter’s Hall of Fame at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s a pretty neat facility. In addition to all of Ted Williams’ mementos, there are those from all of the players inducted into the Hitters’ Hall of Fame. While I was there, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs was signing autographs to aid the Boston One Fund and the Captain Ted Williams Wounded Warrior Fund. Boggs is only the third Hall of Famer that I have met.

Dave Heller edited the recently released book, Facing Ted Williams, about the slugger. Several pitchers reminisced on their memories of facing the Splendid Splinter. Some of the pitchers included are Bob Feller, Virgil Trucks, Bobby Richardson, Don Larsen, Roy Sievers, Mudcat Grant, and several others.

Heller gets insight from catchers and infielders about what it was like to face Williams.

Mickey Mantle could be hitting batting practice and nobody would leave the visitor’s clubhouse. But Williams? Everyone rushes out to watch him hit!

Boggs wrote the forward, in which he recalls the times that he was able to talk to Williams while with the Boston Red Sox. Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Wolff penned the afterward, in which he cherishes the times spent interviewing Williams–who was never a fan of the media.

Williams played during baseball’s Golden Age. It’s nice to see the insight and nostalgia regarding this era. This book isn’t just for fans of Williams, Red Sox fanatics, or even the casual baseball fan. It’s a book for any baseball fan.

I can only imagine that they will be writing books one day on what it was like to have faced Albert Pujols.

Tags: Boston Red Sox

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