Ted Williams always admitted that. He would say HITTER..NOT PLAYER. In his opinion Joe DiMaggio was the greatest PLAYER he ever saw.
In an age of performance enhancing drugs and a culture of wealth and deceit in professional sports, it's refreshing to revisit the feats of one of baseball’s best: the last man to hit .400 in a season, with a lifetime .344 batting average, who played remarkable baseball until age 40 and who reigns as the best all-around hitter in history.
What sets this exhaustive exploration apart from other Ted Williams biographies is the author's finesse at maintaining a fan's enthusiasm for his remarkable subject while confronting the warts-and-all reality of an imperfect hero. Boston Globe reporter-editor Ben Bradlee Jr. admits at the start that Williams was, indeed, "my hero." Still, Bradlee never shies from dark side of the Williams myth: the insecure immigrant's son; the imperfect father and husband; the raging hothead, who flaunted his disdain for the press and a few teammates. Bradlee spent a decade investigating every detail of Williams’s 83 years--and beyond. He even uncovers gruesome tidbits about the strange aftermath of Williams’s death in 2002, when his body was taken to a cryonics facility, his head severed and then frozen inside a Tuperware-like container. Passionately researched and artfully told, this is much more than a sports story; it's the sprawling saga of a talented, tenacious, tumultuous, one-of-a-kind American man.
Williams was the best hitter in baseball history. His batting average of .406 in 1941 has not been topped since, and no player who has hit more than 500 home runs has a higher career batting average. Those totals would have been even higher if Williams had not left baseball for nearly five years in the prime of his career to serve as a Marine pilot in WWII and Korea. He hit home runs farther than any player before him--and traveled a long way himself, as Ben Bradlee, Jr.'s grand biography reveals.
Born in 1918 in San Diego, Ted would spend most of his life disguising his Mexican heritage. During his 22 years with the Boston Red Sox, Williams electrified crowds across America--and shocked them, too: His notorious clashes with the press and fans threatened his reputation. Yet while he was a God in the batter's box, he was profoundly human once he stepped away from the plate. His ferocity came to define his troubled domestic life. While baseball might have been straightforward for Ted Williams, life was not.
If you want to know practically everything you care to know and more about Teddy Ballgame than Bradlee's book "The Kid" would be the book to read. Some may feel they are being told more than what would interest them because Bradlee goes into great detail about the several wives of Williams in addition to his children and step-children. In addition there is a detailed hassle regarding Ted being "stored" in the Alcor facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, that may be belaboring to some readers.
Ted Williams was a man of many mood swings which may have dated back to his childhood where his mother was a dedicated worker with the Salvation Army and pretty much ignored him as did his father as well. Williams could be profanely abusive to people including his many wives and others who crossed his path. He, no doubt, could be very difficult to live with. On the other hand he could be very gentle with youngsters and would go out of his way to be of assistance to others who were in need. It was the great Rogers Hornsby who gave Williams the advice to "get a good ball to hit." Red Sox clubhouse man Johnny Orlando tagged Williams with the nickname "The Kid.".
Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey was often beloved by his players. He did, however, run a house of prostitution in South Carolina in which he, himself, took advantage of. We have often heard of "The curse of the Bambino" in which the Bosox failed for so many years to win a championship due to their shipping Babe Ruth off to the Yankees in 1920. However, the real curse lies in the lap of owner Tom Yawkey who wanted nothing to do with having an African-American player on the team. The Sox turned down both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays in a tryout. Can you imagine those two in addition to Williams in the Hub's lineup at the same time during the 1950s? Yawkey and bigoted manager Mike "Pinky" Higgins have only themselves to blame for Boston's lackluster teams during that golden decade of the '50s.
Author Bradlee gives ample coverage of Ted Williams' military career. Ted was a flight instructor in World War II and had more interest in flying than in playing wartime baseball in the army. He was disappointed to say the least in being recalled to fight in the Korean War as a fighter pilot. However, his military career was exemplary and exhibited well-disciplined behavior.
Williams' greatest thrill in baseball was his walk-off home run in the 1941 All-Star game. He batted a disappointing .200 in the 1946 World Series but he had suffered an injury to his elbow by a pitched ball prior to the start of the Fall Classic.
A biography on Ted Williams would not be complete without a detailed coverage of his fishing exploits with his favorite locations being the Florida Keys, the Islamorada in the Upper Keys, and the Miramichi River in New Brunswick, Canada.
Ted toyed with the idea of quitting in the mid-1950s until a fan named Ed Mifflin convinced him to continue playing so he could achieve milestones that were within his reach. The book covers anecdotes of several Red Sox players such as Don Buddin, Sammy White, Ted Lepcio, and Milt Bolling all of whom I remember from my baseball cards of the 1950s and my following of the Detroit Tigers.
This book is a massive effort by author Ben Bradlee, Jr. which took him a decade to bring to fruition. It also includes three separate sections of photographs. If you want to know most everything about Ted Williams' life then this would be the book to read. If you want another five star biography on Ted Williams which will provide you with less detail then I would suggest you read Lee Montville's book entitled Ted Williams. Both are outstanding
THE KID is biography of the highest literary order, a thrilling and honest account of a legend in all his glory and human complexity. In his final at-bat, Williams hit a home run. Bradlee's marvelous book clears the fences, too.