Baseball star Ted Williams was born in San Diego, California, in 1918. A gifted hitter, Williams made his Major League debut with the Boston Red Sox at age 20 in 1939. Over the next two decades Williams became one of the game's all-time great hitters. He retired from baseball in 1960 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. Williams died on July 5, 2002, in Inverness, Florida.
Theodore Samuel Williams was born on August 30, 1918, in San Diego, California and is widely considered one of baseball's all-time great players. His childhood was shaped by the absence of his parents in much of his life. His father worked often, first as a photographer, and later as a U.S. marshal. His mother was a strong-willed woman who spent much of her time parading the streets of San Diego, protesting what she considered to be the evils of alcohol. Some nights, Ted and his brother Danny had to sit outside until 10 at night to wait until their parents came home to let them in the house.
Without much of a home life, the tall and scrawny Williams found refuge at the park, especially the baseball diamond. He was an adept hitter as a child and as he got older and his body grew, Williams proved to better than anyone he played with. At Herbert Hoover High School, Williams continued to hit, registering a .538 average his junior year. He also pitched, finishing with a 16-3 record.
At the age of 17, Williams, embarked on his dream to become a pro baseball player and signed to play with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League throughout the summer for $150 a month.
Over the next few summers, Williams played for the Padres. After a stellar 1937 season, the Boston Red Sox signed him to a two-year deal. Optioned to the club's minor league team in Minneapolis, Williams tore the cover off the ball in 1938, taking home the league's Triple Crown by leading all hitters in hitting (.366), home runs (43) and RBIs (142).
Big League Career
In 1939, Ted Williams made his debut as a member of the Red Sox. His hitting prowess didn't let up, and the 20-year-old outfielder—who was affectionately dubbed "The Kid"—led the American League in RBIs with 145 and finished fourth in MVP voting.
Over the next two decades—except for time that he served in the military as a Navy pilot in World War II and a Marine pilot in the Korean War—Williams was as good a hitter as the game had ever seen. The left-fielder won six batting titles, was the league's home run and RBI champ four times and twice captured the Triple Crown. In 1941, he finished the season with a .406 average. He is the last Major League player ever to top the .400 mark.
Even as other parts of his game began to erode with age, Williams could still swing an effective bat. In 1957, at the age of 39, he hit .388 to become the oldest player in history to lead the league in batting average.
Ornery and difficult to deal with, Williams never had a cozy relationship with the press or Boston fans, who shunned the athlete when he didn't give a strong performance. In turn, Williams never tipped his hat to the crowd until he gave a speech to Red Sox fans in 1991.
Still, it proved to be a tearful goodbye when Williams hung up his cleats for good in September 1960. As usual, however, Williams went out in style, belting a home run into Fenway Park's bleacher seats in his final at bat. Overall, Williams finished with a career average of .344—the sixth highest since 1990—and 521 homeruns.
In 1966, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Throughout much of his post-playing life, Williams continued to stay connected to the game of baseball. He managed the Washington Senators for three years, and later did some coaching for the Red Sox.
An avid fisherman, Williams spent as much time as he could out on the water. His life, though, took a dramatic turn in 1994 when a stroke greatly limited his ability to walk.
Over the course of his life, Williams married three times and had three children.
Williams died of a stroke in Inverness, Florida, on July 5, 2002, at the age of 83. Controversy clouded his passing because instead of being cremated as he had wished, his son, John, had his father's body cryogenically frozen at a facility in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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