April 20, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Fans line up at gate B and surround the statues of former Red Sox players Ted Williams (not pictured), Bobby Doerr (not pictured), Johnny Pesky (not pictured), and Dom Dimaggio (not pictured) before the start of the 100th anniversary celebration and the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Even the greatest are not without their flaws and Ted Williams certainly fits into that category. With “Teddy Ballgame” it was just his irascible nature that Williams readily acknowledged. This may have been either a defense mechanism or one driven by an immense ego that could not tolerate even the slightest of slights.
Williams’s relationship with the press was one of contentious hostility especially with Dave Egan and Austen Lake. A real research adventure is examining some of their articles and one can understand why Ted may have blown a gasket. Controversy sells and what better way to generate controversy than be critical – real or deserved – of “The Great Man” and watch the sparks fly. And fans loved to pick up on this knowing that one negative comment from the grandstand would outweigh a thousand positives.
Williams would often spit towards the press box and that was something I witnessed on more than one occasion. Comments back towards fans showed Williams had no filters about who was in the general vicinity – women, children and even nun’s. I actually saw that on Nun’s Day.” Yes – they had that at Fenway Park. Williams would float a tirade of bombs – the F type – in the general area of whom offended him.
There was the infamous bat tossing incident in which Williams tossed his bat after a called third strike – hitting a woman in the stands. The woman, the housekeeper for GM Joe Cronin, had to be taken to the hospital. That was just one of many shining examples of Williams’s negative behaviors that caused controversy.
I wrote recently about my meeting with TSW and have greatly admired Williams for his charity, war service and providing me with the opportunity to see the greatest hitter that ever existed. But truth be told TSW could really be a simple bonehead when so moved.