Saturday, July 06, 2002

Splendly Cocky Splinter-Red Sox slugger Ted Williams died yesterday; he was arguably the best all-around hitter for combining average and power in baseball history. I wasn't even born when Teddy Ballgame hung up the spikes, but he was part of baseball folklore. As the last guy to hit .400 for a full season, his name would come up when someone would flirt with .400 by mid-summer. He was a notorious left-handed pull hitter to the point where opposing teams would be playing the shortstop on the first base side of second and have the third baseman playing about where the shortstop would normally be. When you saw that type of exaggerated positioning over the last quarter-century, it would be called a "Williams Shift." He was also one of the cockiest and most profane guys to play the game. IIRC, Ball Four has a vignette about him taking batting practice, talking trash about his hitting prowess and the lameness of certain opposing pitchers, punctuated with "I'm Ted F-ing Williams!" The story in this ESPN piece makes that story seem about right.

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