Boston Red Sox: Most memorable games in franchise history
By Drew Athans
Ted Williams hits .406
This one isn’t a game that meant a whole lot in terms of the Red Sox place in the standings as they finished the 1941 season at 84-70 and in second place in the American League, but this win was still a big deal. In fact, besides being the only entry on this list that isn’t a game of importance, it’s the only one that’s actually two games.
On September 28, 1941, Ted Williams was closing in on one of the greatest individual accomplishments in baseball: hitting .400. Entering that final day of the season, he was batting .39955 which would have been rounded up to an even .400 then and there. Fans and the press wondered if he’d bother playing the final two games of the season (a doubleheader); even Red Sox manager Joe Cronin offered to sit Williams to preserve his average.
Williams’ response was legendary: “If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want more than my toenails on the line” he reportedly said. In a gutsy move totally in keeping with his character, he played in both games and went a combined 6-for-8 at the plate on the day to finish the season with a .406.
To this day he is the last player to hit .400. Only two players since 1941 have even come remotely close: George Brett hit .390 in 1980 and Tony Gwynn hit .394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season.
Making Williams’ feat even more impressive is the fact that in 1941, sacrifice flies were still counted as at-bats. Had modern rules applied, most baseball statisticians calculate that Ted would have actually hit between .411 and .419 (it’s a range because sacrifice flies weren’t a recorded statistic at the time).
For the season, Williams hit 37 home runs and 120 RBI to go along with his .406 average, missing the Triple Crown by five RBI (he still ended up winning two Crowns over his entire career, a record).
This one is an individual accomplishment, but it’s still one of the greatest days in Red Sox history and worthy of inclusion on this list.