Known as “The Splendid Splinter,” Ted Williams dominated the 1940’s, belting 521 homers, batting .344 and driving in 1,839 RBIs. The Boston Red Sox leftfielder won two Triple Crowns and holds several all-time records, including: best career on-base percentage (.483) and highest career slugging percentage (.634) second only to Babe Ruth’s (.690). Despite winning the Triple Crown in 1942 and 1947, Williams was not voted MVP in either of those standout years.
In his seven seasons that decade, he led the league in runs batted in three times, batting and home runs four times each and runs six times. But the magic number that best defines Williams' career at the plate is his 1941 batting average of .406. No player has topped .400 since.
As good as Williams was, people will always wonder what might have been. What if injuries had not cost him almost two full seasons? What if five of his prime years had not been spent in the Navy in World War II (1943-45) and flying combat missions for the Marines in the Korean War (most of the 1952 and 1953 seasons)?
Last Homer on his Last Trip to the Plate
Every baseball player hopes to go out on his own terms, but few have actually done so. But on the final day of the final homestand of the 1960 season, 10,454 fans showed up at Fenway to give a loving goodbye to the 42-year-old Williams.
Ted Williams is congratulated by Jim Pagliaroni after homering in his final at-bat Sept. 28, 1960
When he came to bat in the eighth inning, Fenway erupted. Everybody wanted a dream ending, and Williams provided it. He hit a home run, and ran the bases like he'd done 520 times before - head down and fast. After touching home plate, he went straight to the dugout.
Afterward, Boston's mayor presented a $1,000 check to the Jimmy Fund, the children's charity Williams championed. The local sports committee presented a plaque. The inscription wasn't read in its entirety, since Williams hated to be fussed over. He then took the microphone and said: "My years in Boston have been the greatest of my life.”
Williams managed the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers from 1969-72, compiling a 273-364 record. After his retirement, Williams spent much of time fishing, and was as proficient with a rod and reel as he was with a bat.