As Graham points out…“I had an illustrator work on the project, and I got submissions from an All Star team of writers including Craig Calcaterra, Josh Wilker, and Dan Szymborski.”
Over the past two months, I conducted a project having people vote on nine-player all-time dream teams. The idea was for voters to pick a team to win a one-off, sandlot game, the ultimate cosmic playoff. This wasn’t about a 25-man roster or designated hitters or relievers, just finding nine players to win a game. I received more than 600 votes in all from a mix of baseball figures, fellow writers, and others.
LF – Ted Williams, by Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods and the related blog
No one has ever loved anything more than Ted Williams loved hitting. Think of him in the light of that love. Forget the other stuff, the other versions of Ted Williams, the severed head on ice, the beloved golf-cart elder centering a teary moment at the All-Star Game, the world-class fly-fisherman in the wilderness, the thickening yet still sublimely effective superstar in the twilight of his career, the fighter pilot landing a flaming jet, the fierce embattled inflexible prodigy in his prime. Think of him young, slouching in the on-deck circle, bat on his shoulders, nothing but skin and bones and hunger and genius. He’s waiting for his chance to step into the box. We’ve all had that chance, loved that chance. But has anyone loved it more?
No one was harder to get out: he is the all-time leader in on-base percentage. Additionally, he is second only to Babe Ruth in smashing the daylights out of the ball (i.e., slugging percentage). Which slight advantage by either player would suggest superior effectiveness as a hitter? A distillate stat that pulls in data from other statistics, offensive win percentage (the statistic measures, according to Baseball-Reference.com, “the percentage of games a team with nine of this player batting would win”), suggests the players were essentially identical in their near-perfect potency as hitters:
Babe Ruth .848
Ted Williams .847
The hundredth of a percentage point that separates these two (who tower over everyone else on the list) seems negligible, placing the legends in a virtual tie. Factor into that tie the years Williams lost in his prime serving in the military.
Now, imagine his turn has come. The hungry bone-thin genius walks toward the plate. Think of the unmatched ferocity of his love. No one ever made more of his turn at bat.
Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:24 PM | 11 comment(s)
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