HBO airs Ted Williams documentary

Someone once wrote that, “in 1955, there were 77,263,127 male Americans…and  everyone of them, in their heart of hearts, would give anything to be Ted Williams”. Viewers can find out why on Saturday, January  30th (9:45am pst) when HBO re-airs “Ted Williams :The Greatest Hitter Who Ever  Lived”. This 76 minute film, which was produced by Margaret Grossi and narrated  by Leiv Schreiber, traces the life of the Red Sox Hall Of Fame outfielder, and includes interviews with  teammate Bobby Deorr, former president George H.W. Bush, and actor Robert Redford.

Ted Williams’s career (1939-1960), in terms of raw statistics, speaks for  itself….six batting titles, two MVP awards, two triple crowns, and the  distinction of being the last major leaguer to hit over .400, when he batted  .406 in 1941. However, Ted Williams was also baseball’s anti-hero…he feuded with  sports writers, had a complicated personal life, and had, what could best be  described, a love-hate relationship with the Boston fans… in the process of  hitting 521 career homers, Williams ignored the time honored tradition of  tipping his cap to the crowd as he crossed home plate.

Williams 21 year career was twice interrupted by military duty, as he served  in both World War Two and Korea…it was during the Korea conflict that he flew in  39 combat missions, once crash landing his plane after it had been hit by enemy  fire. Ted Williams’s stints in the service cost him five seasons, but despite  that, his batting eye never deserted him, as he played into his 40’s, compiling  a lifetime batting average of .344. Playing in his final game in 1960, the 42  year old Williams would homer in his last career at bat. The writer, John Updike, described the scene at Fenway Park, in an essay printed in the New Yorker….after  Williams circled the bases, he retreated to the dugout, as always, failing to  tip his cap. Teammates, coaches, and even umpires pleaded with him to somehow  acknowledge the cheering fans, but it never happened…as Updike pointed out, “Gods do not answer letters”.