The Lighter Side: Memories of Ted Williams

Joe Guilbeau

In 1946, when I was stationed at the U.S. Naval Base in Newport, Rhode Island, we would ride the bus to Providence and then then the train to Boston to enjoy Major League Baseball.

Joe Guilbeau

It also gave us a chance to see the great Ted Williams.

We would sit in the rightfield bleachers to see his home runs soar over the rightfield wall. That area of the bleachers was known as “Williamsburg.”

Theodore Samuel Williams (named after President Theodore Roosevelt) was born Aug. 30, 1918 in San Diego.

Williams, to this day, is regarded as “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived” and is considered one of the greatest players in MLB history.

Secondly, he is revered as one of America’s greatest patriots, which I will explain later in this column.

Though he had offers from the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees while he was still in high school, his mother thought he was too young to leave home, so he signed up with the local minor league club, the San Diego Padres.

While in basic training at the San Diego Naval Base, we would go to baseball games at the Padres Ballpark on weekends. For some strange reason, while we were on active duty, we were still too young to buy beer at local bars. But we could buy beer at the ballgames. We went to a lot of doubleheaders!

Career Highlights and Awards:

--All-Star (1940-42, 1946-51, 1953-60), 19 altogether.

--American League MVP (1946, 1949)

--Triple Crown (1942, 1944)

--AL Batting Champion (1941, 1942-44, 1948, 1957, 1958)

--AL Home Run Leader (1941, 1942, 1947, 1949)

--AL RBI Leader (1939, 1942, 1947, 1949)

--Lifetime Batting Average: 344

--RBIs: 1,839

--On-base Percentage: .482 (a Major League record)

--Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966

--Selected to Major League All-Time Team in 1997

--Selected to Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.

--Williams once hit the ball on the fly hitting a 512-foot center wall.

--Red Sox Hall of Fame at Fenway Park.

--He once hit a home run at Comiskey Park that traveled 600 feet.

Williams interrupted his baseball career in 1943 to served three years in the United States Navy during World War II, and then two years as a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot in the Korean War – five years serving our country, and he still ended his career with 521 home runs!

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush presented Williams the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States government. For all of the above reason, I call him “the greatest American patriot of all time! He was, indeed, the greatest!