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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, July 06, 2002

How Great Was Ted Williams?

You already knew that the last Big Leaguer to hit over .400 also hit 521 homers despite missing almost five seasons due to military service as a pilot and flight instructor. Another 150 for the time he missed gets him up into Babe Ruth country.

But if you missed his appearance at the 1999 All-Star Game, you missed something special. And I didn't know about this part of his Hall of Fame acceptance speech at Cooperstown, as recounted in the Times, so maybe you didn't either:

"Perhaps his finest moment as a man occurred on the day in 1966 when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. "I hope," he said, "that Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson somehow will be inducted here as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here because they were not given a chance."

In the early 1970's, Paige and Gibson were elected to the Hall of Fame by a special committee honoring players from the old Negro leagues.

RIP, Teddy Ballgame.

UPDATE: The Other Sullivan reminds us of Carl Yastrzemski's Hall of Fame induction speech:

"I remember in 1961 when I was a scared rookie hitting .220 out after the first three months of my baseball season, doubting my ability, a man was fishing up in New Brunswick. I said, "Can we get a hold of him? I need help. I don't think I can play in the big leagues." He flew into Boston. Worked with me for three days. Helped me mentally. Gave me confidence that I could play in the big leagues. I hit .300 for the rest of the season. I'd like to thank Ted Williams."

So many guys wearing Triple Crowns in Boston. But I don't see any rings...

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