Date of birth: 30 August 1918
Primary position: Left Fielder
Elected to Red Sox Hall of Fame: 1995
Elected to Red Sox Hall of Fame: 1966
Theodore Samuel Williams may be one of the most recognized names in sports history; despite the fact that he took his team to the World Series only once, and lost, Williams rewrote the record books with his patented swing. Always the perfectionist, he sometimes came across as rude and arrogant, but his focus was never a question: his goal was to make contact with the ball each and every time he came to home plate with a bat in his hand.
“The Kid” began his major-league career at the age of 20 with the Red Sox in 1939 and was an immediate impact on the team, batting an average of .327, clobbering 31 home runs, and driving in 145 runs. He is perhaps more remembered for what he did two years later. On the last day of that season, he was statistically hitting .400 (.3995) and then-manager Joe Cronin offered to rest Williams to preserve the mark; instead, the “Splendor Splinter” played in both ends of a double-header and went 6-for-8 at the plate to raise his final average to .406, the last player to ever bat better than .400. That might have been enough to earn MVP honors, but that went instead to friendly rival Joe DiMaggio, who had hit safely in 56 straight games that season for the New York Yankees.
Williams actually missed the 1943 through 1945 when he went off to fight for his country in World War II and also missed part of the 1952 and 1953 seasons to serve in Korea. Even with time away from baseball, he never lost his touch. In 1946, the year he returned from WWII, he earned AL MVP honors; the following season, he won his second Triple Crown with a .343 average, 32 home runs, and 114 RBI. Williams also won two batting titles late in his career; in 1958, at the age of 39, he batted an incredible .388.
To add an exclamation point to his career, in his last at-bat in Fenway Park, he sent a pitch into the right field bleachers for home run number 521 of his career, a Red Sox record. Williams retired in 1960 after 19 seasons with the Red Sox and easily won election to baseball’s Hall Of Fame in 1966. He is also only one of seven former Red Sox players to have his number (9) retired by the organization.
Career Batting Statistics through 2018 Season
Awards and Recognition with Boston
Batting Champion (.406), 1941
Batting Champion (.356), 1942
Batting Champion (.343), 1947
Batting Champion (.369), 1948
Batting Champion (.388), 1957
Batting Champion (.328), 1958
Batting Triple Crown (0.356, 36 HR, 137 RBI), 1942
Batting Triple Crown (0.343, 32 HR, 114 RBI), 1947
Home Run Champion (37), 1941
Home Run Champion (36), 1942
Home Run Champion (32), 1947
Home Run Champion (43), 1949
Most Valuable Player Award, 1946
Most Valuable Player Award, 1949
RBI Champion (145), 1939
RBI Champion (137), 1942
RBI Champion (114), 1947
RBI Champion (159), 1949
The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year, 1941
The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year, 1942
The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year, 1947
The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year, 1949
The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year, 1957
Memorable Moments for Ted Williams
- 30 August 1918 - Future Red Sox Hall of Fame player Ted Williams is born in San Diego, CA, as Carl Mays pitches two complete-game victories for Boston at Fenway Park.
- 7 December 1937 - Boston acquires the future services of Ted Williams when they trade Dom Dallesandro, Al Niemiec, and cash to the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League for the 19-year-old future Hall of Fame player.
- 13 March 1938 - Ted Williams dons a Red Sox uniform for the first time in an exhibition game, playing right field and batting third in a 6-2 exhibition loss to Cincinnati in Sarasota, FL; Williams is hitless in four at-bats.
- 20 April 1939 - Rookie Ted Williams makes his major league debut in a 2-0 loss to the Yankees in New York, going 1-for-4 with a double off Red Ruffing and striking out in his first at-bat.
- 23 April 1939 - Ted Williams hits his first career home run in the first inning of a 12-8 loss to the Athletics at Fenway Park off Philadelphia's Bud Thomas.
- 4 May 1939 - Ted Williams launches a pitch over the right field roof at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, the first player ever to do so, in a 7-6 win over the Tigers.
- 9 July 1940 - Red Sox player-manager Joe Cronin manages the American League to a 4-0 loss against the National League after Yankees manager Joe McCarthy declines the honor. Red Sox All-Stars include Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Finney, and Doc Cramer.
- 24 August 1940 - Ted Williams is used as a pitcher for the only time in his career in a 10-1 loss to the Tigers in the opener of a double-header at Fenway Park.
- 8 July 1941 - Ted Williams wins the All-Star game with a dramatic, two-out, three-run home run, giving the American League a 7-5 victory over the Senior Circuit at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.
- 28 September 1941 - With six hits in eight at-bats during a doubleheader, Ted Williams finishes the season with a .406 batting average; he is the last major league baseball player to hit .400 or better in a season.
- 27 September 1942 - Ted Williams plays in his last game before leaving the Red Sox to join the service in support of World War II efforts; Williams finishes the season winning the Triple Crown but fails to pair that award with the MVP award, losing to Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon.
- 26 February 1946 - Ted Williams, back from serving in World War II, hits the first pitch he sees in spring training for a home run.
- 21 July 1946 - Ted Williams hits safely in seven consecutive at-bats during a doubleheader and, in the second game, hits for the cycle as Boston wins 5-0 and 7-4 over St. Louis.
- 13 September 1946 - Boston clinches its first pennant since 1918 with a 1-0 win over the Indians in Cleveland as Ted Williams hits the only inside-the-park home run of his career.
- 1 October 1946 - In an exhibition game between Boston and a collection of American League All-Stars, Ted Williams is hit by a pitch on the elbow; the injury will hamper Williams during the his only World Series appearance.
- 14 November 1946 - Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams wins the first of two Most Valuable Player awards after finishing second twice in 1941 and 1942.
- 28 September 1949 - Ted Williams reaches base in his 84th consecutive game to set a major league record.
- 25 November 1949 - Ted Williams wins his second American League Most Valuable Player award; the Red Sox outfielder finished only .0002 points shy of the batting title, which would have also won him the Triple Crown for a third time.
- 30 April 1950 - Boston shuts out Philadelphia 19-0 in the first game of a doubleheader, scoring 11 runs in the fourth inning as Ted Williams hits a pair of three-run home runs in the game.
- 15 May 1951 - Ted Williams hits the 300th home run off Howie Judson but the Red Sox lose 9-7 in extra innings at the franchise celebrates Fenway Park's 50th year of existence.
- 9 January 1952 - The US Marines announce their intent to call Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams back to active duty in Korea. Williams, who missed three seasons due to World War II, will play briefly to begin the 1952 season and does not return to the Boston lineup until late in 1953. In between he flies 39 missions over Korea and survives a crash-landing after being shot down by enemy fire.
- 30 April 1952 - The Red Sox bid Ted Williams farewell in his last game before leaving for duty with the Marines in response to the Korean War effort and the Splendid Splinter leaves a lasting impression with a home run in a 5-3 Boston victory at Fenway Park.
- 1 March 1954 - Ted Williams suffers a broken collarbone on the first day of spring training. The "Splendid Splinter" will miss the first four weeks of the regular season as a result.
- 26 September 1954 - Ted Williams plays in what is perceived as his last game of his career; however, after sitting out for the first weeks of the 1955 season, "The Kid" returns in May.
- 11 August 1955 - Ted Williams collects his 2,000th career hit in New York as the Red Sox lose 5-3 to the Yankees.
- 17 July 1956 - Ted Williams hits his 400th home run in the sixth inning off Tom Gorman to account for the only run in a 1-0 win for Boston over Kansas City.
- 22 September 1957 - Ted Williams hits a home run in his fourth consecutive official at-bat, having hit home runs in his three previous appearances as a pinch hitter, to tie a major league record.
- 23 September 1957 - With a single, three walks, and a hit-by-pitch, Ted Williams sets a major league record by reaching base in sixteen consecutive plate appearances.
- 6 February 1958 - Ted Williams signs with the Red Sox for $135,000, making him the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball history.
- 17 June 1958 - Ted Williams plays in his 2000th major league game as the Red Sox are shut out by the White Sox 4-0 in Chicago.
- 2 June 1959 - Boston loses 5-3 to Kansas City but Ted Williams manages to collect his 2,500th career hit, a double off Ray Herbert in the second inning.
- 17 June 1960 - Ted Williams hits the 500th home run of his career to give Boston the deciding runs of a 3-1 win over the Indians in Cleveland.
- 28 September 1960 - In his final at-bat, Ted Williams hits a mammoth home run, the 521st of his career, into the right field bleachers at Fenway Park to give Boston a 5-4 win over the Orioles.
- 25 July 1966 - Ted Williams is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and, during his acceptance speech, implores Cooperstown to someday enshrine former Negro League players who were never given the opportunity to play major league ball.
- 29 May 1984 - The first two uniforms ever retired by the Red Sox are for former players Ted Williams (9) and Joe Cronin (4) during pre-game ceremonies in a contest eventually called off due to rain.
- 5 July 2002 - Red Sox legend Ted Williams passes away at the age of 83 in Inverness, Florida.
- 24 August 2002 - Flying out to center field in the bottom of the sixth inning, Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez ends a streak of 14 consecutive at-bats in which he reaches base, which includes nine hits and five walks. Former Boston outfielder Ted Williams holds the major league record with 16.
- 31 May 2008 - Manny Ramirez hits the 500th home run of his career of Orioles pitcher Chad Bradford as Boston best Baltimore 6-3 at Camden Yards. Ramirez becomes the third player to hit number 500 with the Red Sox after Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams.
- 12 January 2009 - Former Red Sox left fielder Jim Rice, who spent all of his 16 years in baseball with Boston, is elected to the Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility. Rice becomes the third player in Red Sox history to spend the bulk of his career playing left field for Boston, following in the footsteps of Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.
- 27 January 2009 - Author John Updike passes at the age of 76. The Pulitzer Prize winner and life-long Red Sox fan was inspired to pen the essay, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, after attending Ted William's last game at Fenway Park in 1960.