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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ted Williams: Secrets of baseball’s greatest hitter — and an unsung hero on race

He lived big (three marriages, countless affairs), feuded big (many believe at his Hall of Fame induction he mumbled the F-word when describing a longtime enemy in the press who had been dead for years) and swore big (according to a man who knew them both, General Patton was not Williams’ equal at cursing). He left behind a legend big enough to fill several big, rich volumes, most recently and most notably Ben Bradlee Jr.’s “The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams” (Little Brown).

At over 800 pages, “The Kid” is a book that matches its subject — and packed with baseball lore, action, romance, profanity and a bizarre sci-fi twist in which the hero dies and his head is cryogenically preserved…..

Let me get this out of the way. When he was giving his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 1966, many people thought they heard him say “Fuck Egan,” meaning “The Colonel” Dave Egan, a sportswriter for the Boston Record with whom he carried on a blood feud for years. Do you think he really said it?

Yes, I do. And if he didn’t say it, I can guarantee he thought it.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 15, 2013 at 03:49 PM | 123 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball books, red sox, ted williams

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   1. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 15, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4618529)
The Splendid Splinter.
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 15, 2013 at 07:01 PM (#4618536)
Let me get this out of the way. When he was giving his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 1966, many people thought they heard him say “Fuck Egan,” meaning “The Colonel” Dave Egan, a sportswriter for the Boston Record with whom he carried on a blood feud for years. Do you think he really said it?


Hopefully.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 15, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4618540)
More home runs than strikeouts in a few of his seasons. I don't care but others seem to cite such a stat for other players.

How many IBBs per year do we think he was getting from ages 20-35? B-Ref doesn't have the data.
   4. BDC Posted: December 15, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4618546)
More HR than K, 35 or more HR:

Player             HR SO Year
Johnny Mize        51 42 1947
Ted Kluszewski     49 35 1954
Lou Gehrig         49 46 1936
Lou Gehrig         49 31 1934
Ted Kluszewski     47 40 1955
Joe DiMaggio       46 37 1937
Barry Bonds        45 41 2004
Mel Ott            42 38 1929
Ted Kluszewski     40 34 1953
Johnny Mize        40 37 1948
Joe DiMaggio       39 30 1948
Stan Musial        39 34 1948
Ken Williams       39 31 1922
Ted Williams       37 27 1941
Andy Pafko         36 32 1950
Willard Marshall   36 30 1947
Al Simmons         36 34 1930
Ted Kluszewski     35 31 1956 


More HR than K was not exactly uncommon during Williams's career, but not unheard of, either. 1941 was the only time Williams did it in a full season.
   5. John Northey Posted: December 15, 2013 at 07:44 PM (#4618551)
Interesting that it happened just once since 1956...good ol' Bonds in his 2004 season (263 OPS+ 362/609/812... yes, an OBP over 600) when he had 120 intentional walks and 112 'unintentional' walks. It was his last Superman year as he had 'just' a 1.025 OPS after that over 1022 PA with a 163 OPS+ before MLB blackballed him (hard to believe no one had a roster slot at the ML minimum for him after a 169 OPS+ season).
   6. Booey Posted: December 15, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4618562)
Interesting that it happened just once since 1956...good ol' Bonds in his 2004 season


Well, amongst seasons with at least 35 homers. Brett in his epic 1980 season had 24 homers and 22 k's.
   7. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 15, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4618565)
good ol' Bonds in his 2004 season (263 OPS+ 362/609/812... yes, an OBP over 600) when he had 120 intentional walks and 112 'unintentional' walks.


That year looks like a computer glitch.
   8. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 15, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4618574)
Pujols was close in 2006, 49/50.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 15, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4618582)
Everything I've read about this book indicates that it's going to wind up being the best bio on Williams. A few of my favorite quotes:

[Egan] was, of course, far from the only sportswriter Ted warred with. Don’t you think he exacerbated the situation, constantly pouring gasoline on the fire so to speak?

Oh, he certainly did. But with Egan you have to remember it was good business for both of them, and that was true for other sportswriters in Boston and in fact in every American League city. The press was hungry for all things Ted Williams. One guy in Boston called him “Our Hemingway. He wrote our stories for us.”

One thing your book made clear to me was the effectiveness of the “Williams shift” – or, as some called it, the Boudreau shift because it was invented by Lou Boudreau — which put most of the players on the right side of the field to counteract that dead-pull hitter’s stroke. Why didn’t he go against it by slapping balls to the opposite field?

Pride. Just silly stubborn pride. He just had to show that he could beat it.

Didn’t he realize that he was playing against the percentages, especially when other teams started using it? That by hitting a ball over third base or down into the corner for a double or something might make them stop using it?

He did realize it, but belatedly, and it cost him points on his batting average.

One thing I particularly admire about “The Kid” is that you don’t minimize the distractions that Williams brought to the Red Sox with the constant spats with sportswriters and spitting at fans who booed him – things like that. He did what he did, and you let him take the blame for it. Do you think in some ways he might have hurt his team with this irresponsible behavior?

Yeah, you’ve got to give him the blame for that. I don’t think there’s any way you can make a case that he helped the Red Sox with all the fussing and feuding. But on the other hand, you have to balance that out with the fact that his teammates, most of them, really loved him and believed in him. Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, others loved him. He went out of his way to help young players, especially with hitting. He was really one of the first batting coaches on a big-league team.
   10. Booey Posted: December 15, 2013 at 09:18 PM (#4618585)
Pujols was close in 2006, 49/50.


Barry barely missed a second season too - 46/47 in 2002.
   11. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 15, 2013 at 09:43 PM (#4618592)
Pride. Just silly stubborn pride. He just had to show that he could beat it.


I think the recent success of defensive shifts has shown its not simple for batters to adapt to them, in fact it's very hard. I'm a little skeptical that pride prevented the super analytical Williams from adapting to it.
   12. Cblau Posted: December 15, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4618595)
Retrosheet's Web site has some IBB data for him pre-1955. It shows only 9 for 1951 (but that led the league), 17 for 1954 in just 117 games.
   13. Morty Causa Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:02 PM (#4618598)
Video clip of Williams's HOF induction speech. The man had presence.

HIs intelligence and charisma leads me to conclude he was one of those rare people who would have excelled in other endeavors.

   14. Morty Causa Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:03 PM (#4618600)
How many players are there who excelled at the highest levels in power, average, and on-base? Williams did it across a 22-year span.
   15. Morty Causa Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM (#4618603)
And he does say in My Turn At Bat that it was just damn hard to make the adjustment. I think he was generally more inclined to use the shift and what that meant as to how pitchers would pitch, against itself. That is, the extreme shift meant that he was going to be pitched a certain way--it necessarily limited pitchers and the defense, too.
   16. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM (#4618604)
Retrosheet's Web site has some IBB data for him pre-1955. It shows only 9 for 1951 (but that led the league), 17 for 1954 in just 117 games.

I've asked before, and that data is partial, so several of his totals are likely higher than reported in the unofficial years.

HIs intelligence and charisma leads me to conclude he was one of those rare people who would have excelled in other endeavors.

Wasn't he an ace fighter pilot? That also suggests he excelled in at least one other endeavor.
   17. Mark Armour Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:28 PM (#4618606)
How can people look at Williams' statistics and think, "gee, if only he hadn't had so much pride he could have hit better."?
   18. Morty Causa Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:36 PM (#4618607)
Especially since he lost at least five of the best years of his career. What do Brock6 computer runs show Williams's career could have been?
   19. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:47 PM (#4618610)
There's never been an example of a successful athlete with excessive pride.
   20. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM (#4618634)
One thing your book made clear to me was the effectiveness of the “Williams shift” – or, as some called it, the Boudreau shift because it was invented by Lou Boudreau — which put most of the players on the right side of the field to counteract that dead-pull hitter’s stroke. Why didn’t he go against it by slapping balls to the opposite field?

Pride. Just silly stubborn pride. He just had to show that he could beat it.

Didn’t he realize that he was playing against the percentages, especially when other teams started using it? That by hitting a ball over third base or down into the corner for a double or something might make them stop using it?

He did realize it, but belatedly, and it cost him points on his batting average.


As far as I know no one has any real proof what the shift cost Williams or if it even cost him anything at all. I've got a whole thread dedicated to news articles from the time period that don't show Williams getting hurt by the shift.

Ted Williams bunted for a hit against the shift at least three times that I know about. Once was in the World Series.
   21. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 15, 2013 at 11:52 PM (#4618637)
Decorated fighter pilot. Fishing Hall of Fame, Presidential Medal of Freedom. Yeah, the man excelled at stuff.
   22. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:45 AM (#4618667)
I keep hoping Gene Hackman will play Old Ted Williams in a movie. In some of the clips from Ken Burns' baseball documentary, the resemblance is striking.
   23. Howie Menckel Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:15 AM (#4618673)
His battles with sportswriters are amazingly uninteresting compared to his also off-field support of Negro Leaguers HOF worthiness, and I don't know why one still seems to override the other stuff.

Dammit, this wasn't a free pass in the general arena in 1966:

"The other day, Willie Mays hit his five-hundred-and-twenty-second home run. He has gone past me, and he’s pushing, and I say to him, “Go get ‘em, Willie.” Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope that one day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.”"

Yeah, Ted was a surly bastard at times. I just hope this more well-rounded aspect of him endures forever. I'm tired of the jokes when his name comes up. War hero, supporter of peers of any race, one of the greatest players who ever lived. Enough?

   24. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:40 AM (#4618675)
Not to mention his work with kids who were afflicted with cancer. It wasn't beneath him to work with people like Ted Kennedy for things like that. Unlike some, he wasn't petty in public affairs--although he supposedly bad-mouthed Truman in what was supposed to be an off-the-record interview. Then apologized, and Truman sent him a letter saying not to worry about it, that he had been known to go off half-cocked, too. Ted in his autobiography says that was really big of him, and I'm sure their political views were mostly diametrically opposite.
   25. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:15 AM (#4618681)
Wasn't he an ace fighter pilot? That also suggests he excelled in at least one other endeavor.


He wasn't an ace, no. An "ace" has a specific meaning - a pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft. Williams never had the chance to shoot down any enemy aircraft. He was an instructor during WW2, although he was scheduled to join an operational F4U Corsair unit, but he didn't join the unit before the war ended. He did fly combat missions in Korea, but the F9F that he flew with VMF-311 was used as a ground attack aircraft, not against enemy fighters. This doesn't demean Williams's record in any way whatsoever, as ground attack missions were vital, and could be very dangerous (Williams, of course, was hit by anti-aircraft fire on one of his missions, and had to crash land his aircraft). But it meant he never had the opportunity to be an ace. He did, however, play on the Red Sox with the only MLB player who became an ace, Jake Jones, who shot down seven Japanese aircraft while flying F6F Hellcats in WW2.
   26. AndrewJ Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:01 AM (#4618687)
Ted flew with John Glenn in the Korean War, and John later said Ted taught him more about flying than anyone else. I could definitely see Ted as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.
   27. BDC Posted: December 16, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4618707)
How can people look at Williams' statistics and think, "gee, if only he hadn't had so much pride he could have hit better."?

This. If one claims that pride and the shift cost Williams points on his batting average, the warrant is that he could have hit .360 or .370 lifetime if only he'd had a smarter approach. That's not all that plausible. I'm always amazed at the hypothetical advice that Williams and Bonds should have swung more, DiMaggio and Clemente taken more pitches, Robinson Cano bust it down the line once in a while :)
   28. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4618717)
Teddy F*cking Ballgame. Of The Major F*cking Leagues.
   29. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: December 16, 2013 at 10:24 AM (#4618725)
   30. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4618783)
His battles with sportswriters are amazingly uninteresting compared to his also off-field support of Negro Leaguers HOF worthiness, and I don't know why one still seems to override the other stuff.

Because few people here think much of sportswriters, and Williams' feuds with a relatively few Boston writers reinforces every popular stereotype about writers as a group. But for every hundred hot tempered ballplayers who engage in feuds with sportswriters, there may be one---especially back then---who's willing to speak out on matters of race or social justice, especially when it isn't part of a marketing campaign. AFAIC that HoF speech was Williams' finest hour.

   31. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4618787)
   32. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4618788)
Yeah, I especially appreciate that Williams did it considering he's half-Mexican but passed for white. It would have been very easy for him to just stay away from that conversation so that no one paid attention to where his mother's family was from. He seems like he was a cantankerous old man when young, only got moreso as he grew older, and was probably hell on wheels to live with and not a super great dad, but he definitely got a lot of things right, and he was amazing in many, many ways.
   33. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4618790)
As for the HOF induction speech, was anyone here there at the time?
   34. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4618795)
First, he wasn't half-Mexican. Second, he made no secret of his heritage, although he didn't preen about it. Third, few kids who had to basically raise themselves get it right.
   35. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4618804)
Is there a good projection for the seasons he lost to war? And do those projections assume everyone is home from war, or does it presume the actual talent level of those years?

   36. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4618817)
Just eyeballing the WWII seasons (assuming everyone is home)...he averaged ~35 HRs, 180 hits, 120 RBIs, 130 runs, and 150 walks before and after the war. So from WWII alone he probably lost 100 HRs, 540 hits, 360 RBIs, 390 runs, and 450 walks. I'd guess another 50 HRs, 300 hits, 200 RBI, 200 runs, and 250 walks from the Korean war, so his adjusted career totals would be ~680 HR, 3100 hits, 2400 RBI, 2400 runs, and 2700 walks.
   37. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4618870)
Pride. Just silly stubborn pride. He just had to show that he could beat it.

I think the recent success of defensive shifts has shown its not simple for batters to adapt to them, in fact it's very hard. I'm a little skeptical that pride prevented the super analytical Williams from adapting to it


What I've read is that he started trying to adjust immediately, but found he couldn't (not immediately)
basically he spent most of the year playing with his footwork to no avail, he needed to spend the off season working on it.
   38. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4618871)
Teddy was 1/4 Hispanic right? You would never guess by looking at my kids that my wife's maiden name was Ruiz and that her dad is 100% Hispanic.
   39. Hank G. Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4618884)
First, he wasn't half-Mexican.


I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. True, his mother was born in El Paso, making her an American. But both her parents were born in Mexico, so to refer to Williams as half-Mexican is not really inaccurate, at least in casual conversation.
   40. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4618888)
You know who is full on, 100% Mexican? Louis CK!

I think calling someone "Mexican" in America is confusing now and full of contradictions because we use it as a "race" when it's really just a nationality.
   41. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4618899)
You know who is full on, 100% Mexican? Louis CK!


George Romney :-)
   42. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4618900)
Oscar: OK, Michael, um... Both my parents were born in Mexico.
Michael: Oh, yeah...
Oscar: And, uh, they moved to the United Sates a year before I was born. So I grew up in the United States.
Michael: Wow.
Oscar: My parents were Mexican.
Michael: Wow. That is... That is a great story. That's the American Dream right there, right?
Oscar: Thank... Yeah...
Michael: Um, let me ask you, is there a term besides Mexican that you prefer? Something less offensive?
Oscar: Mexican isn't offensive.
Michael: Well, it has certain connotations.
Oscar: Like what?
Michael: Like... I don't... I don't know.
Oscar: What connotations, Michael? You meant something.
Michael: No. Now, remember that honesty...
Oscar: I'm just curious.
Michael: ...empathy, respect..
   43. Howie Menckel Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4618913)

"I think calling someone "Mexican" in America is confusing now and full of contradictions because we use it as a "race" when it's really just a nationality."

Nets coach John Calipari was fined by the NBA in the mid-1990s for calling a sportswriter whose parents are/were Mexicans a "focking Mexican idiot."

well, one letter off there
   44. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4618922)
I think calling someone "Mexican" in America is confusing now and full of contradictions because we use it as a "race" when it's really just a nationality.


Michael: Um, let me ask you, is there a term besides Mexican that you prefer? Something less offensive?
Oscar: Mexican isn't offensive.
Michael: Well, it has certain connotations.


   45. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: December 16, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4618935)
28----it's a little early to be drinking.
   46. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 02:15 PM (#4618938)
AFAIC that HoF speech was Williams' finest hour.


IMO, risking his life for his country in combat was his finest hour.
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 16, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4618953)
AFAIC that HoF speech was Williams' finest hour.

IMO, risking his life for his country in combat was his finest hour.


How many millions of servicemen got drafted and served honorably? How many thousands were also awarded high medals of honor?

How many ballplayers BITD spoke out like Williams did about the absurdity of an all-white Hall of Fame?

And BTW Williams didn't volunteer to "risk his life for his country" in Korea. He was drafted, and complained loudly about it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but don't gild the lily by imagining that what he did in Korea was originally motivated out of any sense of spontaneous patriotism.
   48. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4618976)
How many millions of servicemen got drafted and served honorably? How many thousands were also awarded high medals of honor?


How many ballplayers BITD spoke out like Williams did about the absurdity of an all-white Hall of Fame?


Fighting in Combat for the USA, risking capture and torture is miles more courageous and honorable than speaking out against racism in the USA in the mid-60's.

Both are good. One is better.
   49. just plain joe Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4618981)
And BTW Williams didn't volunteer to "risk his life for his country" in Korea. He was drafted, and complained loudly about it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but don't gild the lily by imagining that what he did in Korea was originally motivated out of any sense of spontaneous patriotism.


It is my understanding that Williams could have taken a discharge from the Navy after his WWII service but elected to remain in the Reserves. Why he would do this I have no idea but it rose up and bit him when he was recalled to active duty for the Korean conflict. Anyway, Williams wasn't drafted but was recalled to active duty, a small difference but a difference nonetheless. I suspect that if Williams had not elected to remain in the USMC Reserve he would not have had to serve during the Korean War.
   50. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4618993)
28----it's a little early to be drinking.


Haha. Its from Ball Four!
   51. stanmvp48 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4619006)
I am about 2/3 through the biography and am enjoying it with a few minor quibbles. One of the things I enjoy is reading about what a miser and a douche bag, Joe D could be; despite his favorable press.
   52. BDC Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4619022)
"Mexican" is standard in Texas for a spectrum of ancestries from born in Mexico to having ancestry that goes back to when this was Mexico. Not offensive at all unless mockingly mispronounced.

I was thinking the awkward part of the identification was "half." People are whole people, after all. But it's still pretty common shorthand, even though "half" has its own history of disparaging uses (fear of hybridity, of "miscegenation," e.g.)
   53. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4619041)
Fighting in Combat for the USA, risking capture and torture is miles more courageous and honorable than speaking out against racism in the USA in the mid-60's.

Both are good. One is better.


One is obviously more physically courageous by a factor of a jillion to one**, but in Williams' case it also wasn't voluntary, as seen by his public complaining about having been recalled for active duty. How you choose to rank them depends on how much weight you assign to those two factors, but Williams' only alternative to Korean combat would have been to refuse to serve and see his entire career and reputation ruined or worse.

**Although the difference would've have been enormously reduced had Williams been an anonymous civil rights volunteer in Mississippi, as opposed to a ballplayer speaking from a platform in Cooperstown, New York.
   54. BDC Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4619058)
Bonds and Brett were mentioned. There's been one other player since Williams retired (1961-present) to hit more than five HR in a season with more home runs than strikeouts. Can you name him?

The catch is that he hit 6 HR and struck out 4 times that season. But it was no fluke: he was a famous hitter having a fabled season. His SLG was higher that year than Brett's was in 1980.
   55. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4619060)
Who is John Paciorek?
   56. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:40 PM (#4619063)
Williams complaint was not just a general one about being re-upped. It was a complaint about inactive reserve and active reserve. He makes that clear in My Turn At Bat. He thought it very unfair that the inactive were called first.

Also, and I hate to bring this up since I'm hazy on it and don't have the time to verify through my own research, although he Williams was an instructor for most of WWII, this was not a cushy job free of the threat getting hurt--even if the threats came from the training cadets. We had this discussion a few years ago and someone noted and gave us data showing that the casualty rates at training camps were actually comparable to those in combat. At least, that's how I remember it. Does anybody remember that?
   57. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4619071)
Bonds and Brett were mentioned. There's been one other player since Williams retired (1961-present) to hit more than five HR in a season with more home runs than strikeouts. Can you name him?

The catch is that he hit 6 HR and struck out 4 times that season. But it was no fluke: he was a famous hitter having a fabled season. His SLG was higher that year than Brett's was in 1980.


I looked it up. Interesting!

Mike Greenwell and Jason Lane missed being on the list by one HR!
   58. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2013 at 05:06 PM (#4619080)
The catch is that he hit 6 HR and struck out 4 times that season. But it was no fluke: he was a famous hitter having a fabled season.

I had to think hard, but I got it. Great question.

And, yes, this dude could really, really hit.

How about throwing this clue on top: he put up these gaudy stats in an extremely very low-scoring environment!
   59. Steve Treder Posted: December 16, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4619083)
"Mexican" is standard in Texas for a spectrum of ancestries from born in Mexico to having ancestry that goes back to when this was Mexico. Not offensive at all unless mockingly mispronounced.

Exactly the case in California and Arizona as well, and I presume New Mexico, but I've only been there a couple of times.
   60. Morton's Fork Posted: December 16, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4619106)
Fighting in Combat for the USA, risking capture and torture is miles more courageous and honorable than speaking out against racism in the USA in the mid-60's.


Bulllshitt.
   61. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4619110)
I was thinking the awkward part of the identification was "half." People are whole people, after all. But it's still pretty common shorthand, even though "half" has its own history of disparaging uses (fear of hybridity, of "miscegenation," e.g.)


Yeah, I really should have said that his mother was hispanic. My mistake, sorry!
   62. BDC Posted: December 16, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4619120)
No worries, Clarence Thomas!

   63. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:06 PM (#4619141)
Bulllshitt.


Good argument.

Williams demanding that NeL blacks be honored like any other ballplayers in the HOF in his inductee speech, and not just in their own special wing, but right next to the white players was a very noble, honorable gesture. But publicly stating this in the America of 1966, he risked very little. Hell, Dick Young agreed with him.

Being in combat, especially as a pilot, carries huge risk, the threat of a fate worse than death in some cases, in Ted Williams' case in particular. Being a military pilot captured by the North Koreans/Red Chinese was no picnic. And answering the call(even he b1tched about it at first because it was gonna be his 2nd time serving), fighting for his county, serving in the military in a time of war, is IMHO more honorable and courageous than a noble speech outside a museum in Upstate NY, no matter how noble that speech might be.

This is a no-brainer for me.

   64. toratoratora Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4619146)
Ted flew with John Glenn in the Korean War, and John later said Ted taught him more about flying than anyone else. I could definitely see Ted as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.

Yep. Glenn selected Williams to be his wingman.They flew around 20 missions together.
When the Ted Williams HoF opened, a reporter unaware of the backstory was surprised to see Senator Glenn there. Upon discovering that they had flown together, the reporter asked Glenn what kind of pilot Williams was. Without hesitating, the Senator replied, "The best I ever saw."

The combination of obsessive attention to detail, world class vision, terrific hand eye coordination, a calculating mind and a flat out commitment to being the best are character traits I can see as being absolutely important to a combat pilot. I don't find it at all surprising that TFB was a very good pilot.
   65. Morton's Fork Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4619149)
This is a no-brainer for me.

I agree with you there.
   66. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4619152)
world class vision


Williams disputed this. He said had good vision, perhaps very good, but not freakishly good.


   67. Publius Publicola Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4619156)
The "reporter" was Curt Gowdy, tora.
   68. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4619159)
It is my understanding that Williams could have taken a discharge from the Navy after his WWII service but elected to remain in the Reserves. Why he would do this I have no idea but it rose up and bit him when he was recalled to active duty for the Korean conflict. Anyway, Williams wasn't drafted but was recalled to active duty, a small difference but a difference nonetheless. I suspect that if Williams had not elected to remain in the USMC Reserve he would not have had to serve during the Korean War.


Williams remained in the inactive reserve after WW2 because at the end of the war, those who agreed to join the inactive reserves were released from the service before those who chose not to join. If Williams had not signed up for the reserves, he may have had to finish out his tour. By signing with the reserves, he was discharged early, and was guaranteed to get back to the Red Sox well in time for the 1946 season. He reportedly got a commitment from the head of the Marine Corps that he would not have to see active duty again, and felt that the Marines renaged on this promise when they called him back 1952. That's one of the reason he was so pissed.
   69. Moeball Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4619160)
And he does say in My Turn At Bat that it was just damn hard to make the adjustment. I think he was generally more inclined to use the shift and what that meant as to how pitchers would pitch, against itself. That is, the extreme shift meant that he was going to be pitched a certain way--it necessarily limited pitchers and the defense, too.


One of Ted's favorite sayings was(as often told to Tony Gwynn in later years) "History is made on the pitch inside".

If you are going to shift your defense to the right side of the field when pitching to a left-handed pull hitter, you are going to have to throw pitches to the batter over the plate (and possibly a bit inside) in order to get the batter to hit the ball to the side of the field where the defense is. If all your pitches are outside, those pitches will be more difficult to pull and there is more chance of a pitch being hit to the opposite field, which is not what the defense wants.

But if you put a fastball on the inside half of the plate, there is a greater chance of Ted Williams ripping it for a HR into the RF bleachers, too, so there is a risk involved. Ted may have actually liked the shift if he felt it gave him more chances to turn on inside fastballs.

I saw an interview with Ted in his later years in which he admitted, possibly for the first time, that the big jump in his numbers in 1957 was partly due to his age (he turned 39 that season).He said that for the first time in his career - early that season, I guess - he was a shade late on some of those fastballs that he used to be able to time perfectly. As a result a few of his hits that he normally would have pulled into right field went the opposite way into the largely uncovered left field due to the shifts that were on. He said that when he saw the results he did actually start intentionally aiming for left field on a few occasions which he had never done in previous seasons. He was still predominantly a pull hitter, though.

If one claims that pride and the shift cost Williams points on his batting average, the warrant is that he could have hit .360 or .370 lifetime if only he'd had a smarter approach.


There is an old story about how Cobb would tease Williams about this. As I've heard the story, at the end of Ted's career but before Cobb died in July of 1961, the two were supposedly talking at some baseball function and this is basically how the conversation went:

Ty: "That was really stupid of you to hit into that shift, Ted. Had anybody tried to pull that shift on me I would have gone the other way and gotten a million hits until they straightened out the defense. If you had been willing to hit the ball the other way you probably could have raised your lifetime average 20 points."

Ted: "So, Ty, you think I could have hit for a higher lifetime average than you?"

Ty: "I said you could have raised your average by 20 points, not 23 points."

No idea if this conversation ever really took place, but the tale persists and I can believe Ty would have tried to tweak Ted about this.
   70. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4619163)
Haha. Its from Ball Four!

A book chock full of anecdotes glorifying drug and alcohol use! [/silliness]
   71. Publius Publicola Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4619164)
What Williams vision was freakishly good at was tracking the trajectory of moving objects, obviously an asset for both baseball hitters and fighter pilots.

I'm pretty sure the main reason it was so good was the hours upon hours of cage time he put in.
   72. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4619166)
Also, and I hate to bring this up since I'm hazy on it and don't have the time to verify through my own research, although he Williams was an instructor for most of WWII, this was not a cushy job free of the threat getting hurt--even if the threats came from the training cadets. We had this discussion a few years ago and someone noted and gave us data showing that the casualty rates at training camps were actually comparable to those in combat. At least, that's how I remember it. Does anybody remember that?


I don't have the data for USN/USMC trainers, which was the branch that Williams was in, but for the USAAF multi-seat trainers in the Continental US from 3rd Quarter 1939 to 3rd Quarter 1945, there were 26,648 flying accidents with 3,502 fatalities.
   73. Zach Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:47 PM (#4619170)
I had thought of Williams as being a very well sung hero on race.

Advocating for Negro Leaguers to be inducted to the Hall of Fame is a different kind of courage than risking his life as a pilot, but hardly smaller. When he advocated for Negro Leaguers, it was at his Hall of Fame induction speech. He was literally placing the prestige of his baseball career on the line -- he was saying that he considered his black contemporaries to be his equals as a ballplayer -- that they should be inducted to the same Hall of Fame (not, say, a Negro Leagues wing of the regular Hall of Fame).
   74. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4619175)
Not in 1966 he wasn't Zach.
   75. Moeball Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:01 PM (#4619181)
Fighting in Combat for the USA, risking capture and torture is miles more courageous and honorable than speaking out against racism in the USA in the mid-60's.


Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman would disagree with you about that except, you know, they're dead, because they were murdered by the KKK for speaking out against racism in the USA in the mid-60's.

Then again, they were in Mississippi, so maybe that does count as risking your life for your country on foreign soil.
   76. tfbg9 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4619193)
Ted Williams did not risk his reputation with his HOF speech. He didn't really stick his neck out that far. Pee Wee Reese did, some 20 years earlier, by publicly backing Jackie.

I say this as a huge TW fan. It was '66. The writing was on the wall.
   77. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4619205)
And answering the call(even he b1tched about it at first because it was gonna be his 2nd time serving), fighting for his county, serving in the military in a time of war, is IMHO more honorable and courageous than a noble speech outside a museum in Upstate NY, no matter how noble that speech might be.


More courageous, no more honorable.
   78. Srul Itza Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:42 PM (#4619210)
I was thinking the awkward part of the identification was "half." People are whole people, after all. But it's still pretty common shorthand, even though "half" has its own history of disparaging uses (fear of hybridity, of "miscegenation," e.g.)


Out here, the term is "hapa", as in hapa-haole, hapa-hawaiian, hapa being a pidgen version of "half a". Nobody takes the slightest offense at being called hapa, as intermarriage is very common here (I know more mixed marriages than any other kind).
   79. toratoratora Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4619212)
Williams disputed this. He said had good vision, perhaps very good, but not freakishly good.

I don't know how true this is.Williams once told a reporter he could see the bat strike the ball. The reporter expressed doubt. Williams was retired, manager of the Senators at the time, so he was no spring chicken.
He promptly went out and began drilling pitches, calling out where they hit. When the reporter checked the ball,he found marks exactly where Williams called them.
That's pretty darn good vision there.
And didn't the Army test him and he came out 20/10 or something similar?
   80. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4619222)
Not in 1966 he wasn't Zach.

Then why the shock and surprise--and the accolades at the time?

I saw an interview with Ted in his later years in which he admitted, possibly for the first time, that the big jump in his numbers in 1957 was partly due to his age (he turned 39 that season).He said that for the first time in his career - early that season, I guess - he was a shade late on some of those fastballs that he used to be able to time perfectly. As a result a few of his hits that he normally would have pulled into right field went the opposite way into the largely uncovered left field due to the shifts that were on. He said that when he saw the results he did actually start intentionally aiming for left field on a few occasions which he had never done in previous seasons. He was still predominantly a pull hitter, though.

The first year I seriously followed baseball on TV what Ted's last year. I still remember how he would get out in front of the ball and hit these tremendous foul-ball homers. It was kind of frustrating to a ten-year old, his doing that so often. i kept thinking, why doesn't he straighten that out.
   81. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 08:16 PM (#4619227)
Williams never claimed to be a civil rights activists. Nevertheless, he backed Robinson and Pumpsie, calling the Red Sox out on their not calling up a black player. And you can read my link to the Mudcat Grant thing. He never claimed to be a pioneer as civil rights activists, or a public figure in politics, but like when he joined forces with Ted Kennedy and others for other causes, he quietly, but reservedly, did his bit. Which, considering his class, was a lot more than a lot of people did. But, although his commitments were genuine, he didn't like to make a big deal about any of that stuff. He thought that would make it seem as if he were only doing it for the notriety.
   82. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4619231)
Again, in his autobiography, he says that many athletes have 20/10 vision (he could see at 20 feet what the average/normal saw at ten feet). I think a recent study corroborates that baseball players, especially those that have to hit, are indeed "selected" for their vision. Many of them do have better than 20/20 vision. And there is not doubt that Williams was intent--he focused laser-like on the pitcher from the moment the pitcher started throwing. Many commented on this. One pitcher even threw at him in the on-deck circle, yelling, "Quit staring at me!"
   83. Booey Posted: December 16, 2013 at 10:03 PM (#4619274)
There's been one other player since Williams retired (1961-present) to hit more than five HR in a season with more home runs than strikeouts. Can you name him?


It never happened, but I always thought Tony Gwynn had a shot. He struck out less than 20 times in 10 of his last 11 seasons (9 of which had over 400 AB's), but rarely had the power to give it a serious run. His career high of 17 homers came in the one season in those last 11 (1997) where he K'd an out of character 28 times (trying to hit HR's that year?). The closest he came was 16/18 in 1998 and 10/14 in 1999.

   84. Moeball Posted: December 16, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4619289)
It never happened, but I always thought Tony Gwynn had a shot. He struck out less than 20 times in 10 of his last 11 seasons (9 of which had over 400 AB's), but rarely had the power to give it a serious run. His career high of 17 homers came in the one season in those last 11 (1997) where he K'd an out of character 28 times (trying to hit HR's that year?). The closest he came was 16/18 in 1998 and 10/14 in 1999.


Yes, Tony was actually trying to hit HRs in 1997 after spending the winter working with Ted. I'll borrow from a thread we had on Frank Howard back in January to explain:

Tony Gwynn has also talked extensively about his conversations with Ted during the winter before the 1997 season. In 1997 Tony had his career highs in both HRs and 2Bs and he attributed both to Williams as follows:

1)Tony was always so polite he would refer to Ted as "Mr. Williams", and Ted would call Tony "son". Ted would say "Son, history is made on the pitch inside". According to Tony, Ted worked with him on getting good situations to look for fastballs on the inside part of the plate as those are the pitches the batter has a good chance to pull for power. Tony used that to hit 13 HRs the first half of the '97 season, way ahead of pace for Tony's normal power output. Then pitchers started going away from Tony more once they realized that he was attacking those inside fastballs.

2)So, according to Tony, Ted had told him this would happen, but - what was Tony's bread and butter his whole career? Going with outside pitches to hit singles through the 5.5 hole, right? Tony said that early in the season he was seeing more inside pitches because he had never been a pull hitter before and pitchers were staying away from Tony's traditional "happy zone". But when Tony started hitting some homers, then pitchers started consciously keeping the ball away from Tony, which fed into his natural style of hitting. Tony said the pull hitting increased both HRs and some doubles, but he also said a lot of doubles that season came on those pitches he could go the other way with.

When Tony turned on an inside pitch in Game 1 of the '98 WS against the Yankees for a HR in Yankee Stadium, he said that was classic Ted Williams training on that AB.

   85. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 16, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4619294)
He reportedly got a commitment from the head of the Marine Corps that he would not have to see active duty again, and felt that the Marines renaged on this promise when they called him back 1952. That's one of the reason he was so pissed.

I read this and I imagine Alex Rodriguez getting "called" to Afghanistan, or any modern athlete short of Pat Tillman.
   86. McCoy Posted: December 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4619528)
Ted Williams like many many other soldiers of WWII took the option of leaving the Armed Forces early and in return they were put on reserves for a very long time. Basically soldiers had a choice. They could stay in China for another 6 months or so or they could opt out but stay in the reserves for 10 years or so. Then when the Korean War started up the Marines and the rest of the armed forces had a very serious shortage of able pilots so they called up the reserves.
   87. McCoy Posted: December 17, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4619530)
Just downloaded the book and though I'm only about 58 pages into the book I can definitely tell already that this book is going to provide a ton more of information about Ted's non baseball life than any other book about him. There are paragraphs and pages devoted to his aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and mentors in this book.
   88. McCoy Posted: December 17, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4619536)
Yeah, I especially appreciate that Williams did it considering he's half-Mexican but passed for white. It would have been very easy for him to just stay away from that conversation so that no one paid attention to where his mother's family was from.

Ted was very very embarassed of his Mexican lineage and hid it because he felt it would make it harder for him to become a baseball player. Hell, the Mexican side of his family was embarassed to be Mexican as well. The called themselves Bosques or even French Canadian. Ted pretty much cutoff the Mexican side of his family when he became a prospect and then later a baseball star.

First, he wasn't half-Mexican. Second, he made no secret of his heritage, although he didn't preen about it. Third, few kids who had to basically raise themselves get it right.

Wrong, wrong, and right. Ted Williams called that side of his family "Mexican" and viewed himself as "half-Mexican" and took great strides to hide that half of his family.

I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. True, his mother was born in El Paso, making her an American. But both her parents were born in Mexico, so to refer to Williams as half-Mexican is not really inaccurate, at least in casual conversation.

She was in all likelihood born in Mexico to Mexican parents. Record keeping wasn't exactly up to snuff back then and people lied all the time for various reasons about their personal information. Both May's older sibling and immediate younger sibling were born in Mexico. So even if May's parent were on some sort of Mary and Joseph trek and May was somehow born in the US she was still 100% Mexican.
   89. BDC Posted: December 17, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4619562)
Interesting info about the "hapa" concept, Srul. I suppose an analogy of sorts in the Southwest is the use of blood quanta to define Indian identity (and legally, to define tribal membership). People will speak quite uninhibitedly about halves and quarters and eighths when it comes to Indian ancestry, in a way that would seem very awkward if used WRT Anglo, African, or Mexican "fractions."
   90. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 17, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4619582)
I read this and I imagine Alex Rodriguez getting "called" to Afghanistan, or any modern athlete short of Pat Tillman.


It happens
   91. GregD Posted: December 17, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4619596)
Interesting info about the "hapa" concept, Srul. I suppose an analogy of sorts in the Southwest is the use of blood quanta to define Indian identity (and legally, to define tribal membership). People will speak quite uninhibitedly about halves and quarters and eighths when it comes to Indian ancestry, in a way that would seem very awkward if used WRT Anglo, African, or Mexican "fractions."
I would defer to the people who still live in Hawaii on this thread but in the years I lived there, I heard "hapa" all the time but any distinction below that was only if people were sitting around talking story. You would hear someone say in public that so and so was hapa haole, but I can't ever remember anybody saying in public so and so is 1/4 or 1/8 anything. People would say about themselves or people they were comfortable with they were a "poi dog," meaning a mutt, a mix, and casually people could talk about which grandparent was Filipino, which Chinese, which Portuguese (Portagee), etc.

There are fascinating things about Hawaiian racial practices, including the interesting idea that racial purity is not a value but still whom one reproduces with matters. Famously, though this is breaking down, haoles gave up on having only haole children but overwhelmingly (at least in my day) had children with Japanese; other groups were much rarer. So, too, were older Japanese people I knew told by their parents that they could only marry Japanese or haole.

Also interesting is the category of "local", meaning not just kama'aina but a mix of the non-haole, non-Japanese peoples--the kind of Filipino/Chinese/Samoan/Hawaiian/Portugese (not considered haoles)/Puerto Rican (more so on Oahu with the settlement around the base in WW2). People called haole and Japanese family and step-family members kama'aina if they were born there but not locals, in my memory.

And people in Hawaii are more obsessed with cultural differences among nationalities and ethnicities than any people I ever met. What exactly are Koreans like? How exactly do Chinese people treat their families? Despite or because of the intermarriage, these cultural differences are ascribed enormous weight and are assumed to be nearly universal. Koreans are screamers and terrible arguers. Period. Japanese are savvy businesspeople and cheap. Default. Portuguese and Filipinos are family people, haoles are loners.
   92. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 17, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4619614)
Williams demanding that NeL blacks be honored like any other ballplayers in the HOF in his inductee speech, and not just in their own special wing, but right next to the white players was a very noble, honorable gesture. But publicly stating this in the America of 1966, he risked very little. Hell, Dick Young agreed with him.

Being in combat, especially as a pilot, carries huge risk, the threat of a fate worse than death in some cases, in Ted Williams' case in particular. Being a military pilot captured by the North Koreans/Red Chinese was no picnic. And answering the call(even he b1tched about it at first because it was gonna be his 2nd time serving), fighting for his county, serving in the military in a time of war, is IMHO more honorable and courageous than a noble speech outside a museum in Upstate NY, no matter how noble that speech might be.

This is a no-brainer for me.


I don't think that anyone doubts that aerial combat in Korea was infinitely riskier than speaking from a podium in Cooperstown. That is indeed a no-brainer.

But again, Williams "answering the call" wasn't a voluntary act on his part. It was either that or risking a prison sentence for not answering the call. In the political context of 1952, that decision was also a no-brainer.

What would have been impossibly risky / courageous would have been for Williams to have pulled a Muhammad Ali and refused to answer the call on religious/political grounds. That would have ended his career right then and there.

Sure, Williams' speech in Cooperstown was easy in the sense that he had a lot of support in the outside world, and likely many in baseball even agreed with his point. But to me the idea that he could stand there at the greatest moment of personal honor in his entire baseball career, and use it to speak out on behalf of players who'd been neglected and overlooked by the very institution that was honoring him---I have no problem in saying that this was Williams' finest hour.
   93. Srul Itza Posted: December 17, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4619632)
I would defer to the people who still live in Hawaii on this thread but in the years I lived there, I heard "hapa" all the time but any distinction below that was only if people were sitting around talking story. You would hear someone say in public that so and so was hapa haole, but I can't ever remember anybody saying in public so and so is 1/4 or 1/8 anything. People would say about themselves or people they were comfortable with they were a "poi dog," meaning a mutt, a mix, and casually people could talk about which grandparent was Filipino, which Chinese, which Portuguese (Portagee), etc.


This is my experience too. You do get into some blood quanta issues with Native Hawaiians, because Hawaiian Homelands benefits are reserved to people who are 50% pure blood Hawaiian.

People called haole and Japanese family and step-family members kama'aina if they were born there but not locals, in my memory.



This is not my experience. I know a lot of Japanese and part-Japanese who are referred to as local -- it depends more on your situation growing up, who you hung around with, what your interests were, how much pidgen you speak.

Japanese are savvy businesspeople and cheap.


I think you're a little mixed up here. Cheap = Pake ("pa-kay") = chinese.

But you are right that, for a place where intermarriage and interracial children are so common, there is still a lot of weight given to the purported differences in ethnic groups and their cultures.

   94. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 17, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4619641)
full list >25 dingers, with more HR than K's

Yogi did it a bunch of times. And check out Tommy Holmes in 1945
   95. Rants Mulliniks Posted: December 17, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4619670)
I've always thought Tommy Holmes's 1945 was one of the most impressive seasons ever. Not so much so when you account for the lesser competition that year, but the set of raw statistics are something to behold. I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned earlier in the thread, actually. He led the league in homers while also leading the league in AB/K ratio.
   96. Steve Treder Posted: December 17, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4619723)
I've always thought Tommy Holmes's 1945 was one of the most impressive seasons ever. Not so much so when you account for the lesser competition that year, but the set of raw statistics are something to behold. I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned earlier in the thread, actually. He led the league in homers while also leading the league in AB/K ratio.

It's always been obvious to me that Stan Musial didn't actually go into military service for the 1945 season. He played for the Braves under the name of Tommy Holmes, and had Holmes go into the Navy using Musial's name.

Duh.
   97. Rants Mulliniks Posted: December 17, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4619752)
So who's the 6 HR/4 k guy?

Ernie Lombardi never hit a lot of homers, but he didn't K at all compared to how hard he hit the ball. He did have 5 seasons with as many or more homers than Ks.
   98. Steve Treder Posted: December 17, 2013 at 04:17 PM (#4619760)
So who's the 6 HR/4 k guy?

Gates Brown, in, of all seasons, 1968.
   99. Rants Mulliniks Posted: December 17, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4619776)
Thanks.....wouldn't have guessed that.
   100. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 17, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4619853)
He wasn't an ace, no. An "ace" has a specific meaning - a pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft. Williams never had the chance to shoot down any enemy aircraft.


Yeah, he was no Dick Bong, but as stated elsewhere, he's probably in the HOVG as far as a VFW.
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