Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quotable Quotes: Ted Williams

Last time I was at home, I stopped in at a local store, just looking to browse. As always, I ended up in their small section of baseball paraphernalia, and then I saw a book I knew I just had to have:

This book is nearly eight hundred pages long, and every page has between four and seven quotes on it - quotes from players, managers, Hall of Famers, scrubs, sportswriters, fans, and anyone in between. That's somewhere around four thousand quotes.

I've since been combing it for especially relevant Sox quotes, so I'll have something to write about during the offseason. For this first installment of "Quotable Quotes," I thought I'd pick adages from and about the late, great Teddy Ballgame. So without further ado, here are the best that The Gigantic Book of Baseball Quotations has to offer.

"There has always been a saying in baseball that you can't make a hitter, but I think you can improve a hitter more than you can improve a fielder. More mistakes are made hitting than in any other part of the game." - Ted Williams

"You dumb hitters. By the time you know what to do, you're too old to do it." - Ted Williams

"If ever a player deserved to hit .400, it's Ted. He never sat down against tough pitchers. He never bunted. He didn't have the advantage of the sacrifice fly rule like those hitters before him." -Joe Cronin

"Hitting is 50% above the shoulders." - Ted Williams

"Wait until [Jimmie] Foxx sees me hit." - A young Ted Williams to a writer who had just told him "Wait until you see Jimmie Foxx hit."

"No one can ever see the ball hit the bat because it's physically impossible to focus your eyes that way. However, when I hit the ball especially hard, I could smell the leather start to burn as it struck the wooden bat." - Ted Williams

"Yeah, you can pitch him low, but as soon as you throw the ball run and hide behind second base." - Manager Lou Boudreau, on pitching to Williams

"I don't care to be known as a .400 hitter with a lousy average of .39955." - Ted Williams, before playing the final game in 1941 to bring his average up to .406

Obviously, Red Sox fans are right to be proud of Williams, the Splendid Splinter himself. Even beyond the accolades, and despite his obvious disdain for the press (and, at times, the fans), Williams was a genuinely good human being. In arguably his greatest act, Ted Williams used his Cooperstown induction speech to make a plea for baseball equality: "I hope some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro ballplayers who are not here only because they weren't given the chance."

Yes, Williams could be cantankerous. Yes, he didn't care much for fans or writers. But he was OURS. The greatest hitter who ever lived was a Boston Red Sox, and no one can ever take that away.

This will be an ongoing feature during the offseason - do any of you have requests for specific players or quotations?

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