.429 for Williams
BOSTON – It is generally thought that no one ever cared about hitting as much as Ted Williams did. It can also be said with much certainty that no one ever did it better than Ted Williams did. The Hall of Famer hit incredibly well for both average and power, and perhaps, had the keenest eyes in the history of the game. He was a patient hitter who rarely ventured out of the strike zone for a pitch, which is evident by his 2019 walks in just under 2,300 career games. The Boston Red Sox leftfielder belted 521 home runs, batted .344, and knocked in 1,839 runs. Ted is also one of only two men to win baseball’s coveted Triple Crown twice. However, William’s claim to fame was his third season in the big leagues, when he became the first player in 10 years to hit for baseball’s magic number, .400.
By many accounts, the 1941 season was one of the best the game had ever seen. With Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak, Williams’ record average, and the Brooklyn Dodgers becoming the surprise darlings of the National League, it was the summer of heroes – especially since the United States would be drawn into the Second World War in December of that same year. With the golden glow of Joe DiMaggio’s streak not yet in the media spotlight, it was business as usual for the Sox during a Memorial Day doubleheader against the rival Yankees.
With a capacity crowd of 34,500 fans – an extra 25,000 were turned away at the gate by the Red Sox management – we find ourselves behind the plate for this May 30th extravaganza. The Yankees took the first contest, holding a narrow lead into the bottom of the ninth for a hard-fought victory. However, the second game would not bode so well for the men from New York. Because of a stiff-necked DiMaggio and a glaring sun that drenched the entire park, the Bombers were sacked by a score of 13-0. Williams went 2 for 3 with a walk, lifting his batting average to a hefty .429 clip. Depicted is his first hit of the game – a bases-empty single – which came in the early innings against Yankee right-hander, Charlie Stanceu. Yankee centerfielder Joe DiMaggio would muff the ground ball single in the outfield, as well as commit two more errors during the course of the game. Williams’ hit would extend his own hitting streak to 17 consecutive games, at the time, one more than DiMaggio’s.
Also pictured is Buddy Rosar, Bill Dickey’s back-up behind the plate. One can see Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto behind Charlie, as well as Charlie Keller in leftfield, dwarfed by the famous leftfield wall at Fenway. Though called ‘The Green Monster’ in its later incarnation, green paint took a back-seat to large advertisements in the mid-1940s. If one looks closely, the ball can be picked up in front of the Lifebuoy sign, before it makes its trek into the outfield, away from enemy hands.
Though the Sox would take the last game of this doubleheader with ease, they would ultimately finish 2nd to the Bronx Bombers in 1941, out by 17 games. However, Ted made baseball history with his .406 batting average – a record that no one has touched since.