ONE SPLENDID SPLINTER: A .406 BATTING AVERAGE

BOSTON, MA

“Gods do not answer letters.” – John Updike on Ted Williams’ aloof attitude toward the press and the fans.

    True or False: A player today, entering the final day of the season batting .400, with his team’s fate already decided, would risk his chance at history by playing not just one, but two games – go 6-8 and end up at .406?
    True or False: A player today, could miss 5 1/2 seasons serving in two wars, fly 39 combat missions, break “hits” record for accuracy, be so stellar a Marine pilot that his plane and its six ‘pianos’ (machine guns) played like a symphony orchestra and still manage to hit 521 home runs using milk shakes as his only performance enhancers?
    True or False: A player today, despite being ticked about being recalled for a second war at the age of 34, would forgo a chance to simply play for the Navy’s Baseball team and take an 8-week refresher course before embarking on all 39 of the aforementioned flying missions – half as John Glenn’s wingman?
    True or False: A player today would homer in his last at bat, put his head down and run the bases like a shy schoolboy and NOT tip his cap NOR come out for multiple ovations from his hometown fans?

If you answered “True” to any of the above questions, you need to seek professional help immediately.

Last night was Documentary Night at MTM Couch Central. We were sunburned and in need of some serious R&R after trying out Future Matts at the Fire Island annex of the MTM Academy; The School For Tomorrow’s Matts. Anyway, after shooing jgclancy off our “retirement” sofa, we settled in and watched programs dedicated to two Boston icons, Ted Kennedy and Ted Williams. We found both to be exceptional. In fact, regardless (irregardless, if you’re Yankee Joe) of your political or baseball allegiance, they are must-see specials. We got weepy in both.

Teddy Ballgame, The Thumper, The Kid or The Splendid Splinter – whichever name you prefer – could hit the baseball. And he did it for 21 seasons – with those lost 5 1/2 being his prime years. Heck, he even managed to join Andre Dawson as the only other Major League ballplayer to hit a home run off a father/son pitching duo: Teddy Ballgame went deep off Thornton Lee on September 17, 1939 and homered off his son Don Lee on September 2, 1960. The Hawk became the second when he went deep off Pedro Borbon on June 10, 1977 then off his son Pedro Borbon, Jr. on August 16, 1995.

Was Ted Williams perfect? As a ballplayer – maybe. As a person – no. His dealings with media became acrimonious early on when a reporter criticized him for vacationing with his girlfriend rather than returning home to his mom (Ted’s, not the reporter’s) at season’s end. He also stopped tipping his cap to the fans after they started getting on him for not hitting 1.000 – Boston fans can be fickle (no offense to bosoxbruins04)! He was a tad suspect as a husband/father as well. When his first child, daughter Barbara Joyce, was born on January 28, 1948, he was off fishing in Florida. He seemingly distanced himself from his mother because she was part Mexican and he divorced three times. When he died, his kids sued each other over having him frozen. But dang…

The guy could hit.

Sam’s-A-Fan or a Ted Williams-like pinch-hitter tomorrow.

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