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Sports Then and Now



A Look Back at the Greatest Hitter of All Time 17

Posted on June 05, 2014 by Martin Banks

On this week of sports history in 1959, the great Ted Williams got the 2,500th hit of his Hall of Fame career. And since it’s always an appropriate day to talk about the fantastic talent of Williams, this occasion is as good as any. Let’s take a look at what he did for the Boston Red Sox and how he earned the nickname, “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”. Williams did just about everything a hitter can do, going from a young baseball player in San Diego to a first-year Hall of Famer and baseball legend.

ted

From Birth to Baseball

Williams, who was named after Teddy Roosevelt and his father, was born in San Diego as Teddy Samuel Williams in 1918. Before he could earn the nicknames “The Kid”, “The Splendid Splinter” and “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”, Williams was first taught how to play ball by his uncle, Saul Venzor. Williams starred on his high school baseball team at Herbert Hoover High as a pitcher, garnering himself offers from the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. However, his mother thought he was too young to move far away, so Williams signed on to play for the minor league San Diego Padres.

It didn’t take long for Williams to be noticed after playing ball for San Diego by Red Sox general manager Eddie Collins. After signing with Boston and playing some minor-league ball, Williams got his chance in The Show. Williams played from 1939-1942, including his legendary 1941 season (which we will talk about later), before being drafted into the military. Williams would serve on both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy from 1942 -1945 and then again from 1952-1953. Williams’ unique major league career didn’t keep him from becoming at least one of the greatest. Fittingly, Williams homered on his final-ever at bat in 1960. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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