Ted Williams

On this date in 1918, baseball’s Hitter of the 20th Century, Ted Williams, was born in San Diego. The street evangelism of his mother, who worked for the Salvation Army and was known as “Salvation May,” embarrassed him as he was growing up. He was dubbed “The Kid” when he started with the Red Sox as a 20-year-old rookie in 1939. His record-breaking career was interrupted twice by service in World War II and the Korean War, during which he safely crash-landed a burning plane in 1953. He was a decorated fighter pilot who received the Medal of Freedom in 1991.

“The Splendid Splinter” won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1946 and 1949. Williams’ career accomplishments include a .406 season in 1941, two Triple Crowns, two MVPs, six American League batting championships, 521 home runs, a lifetime average of .344 and 17 All-Star Game selections. Williams ended his career at age 42 by hitting a home run at Fenway Park. Williams had the record for career on-base percentage (.483). He was the last major league baseball player to hit .400.

After enduring a series of strokes, congestive heart failure and a nine-hour heart surgery in 2001, Williams died the next year at age 83. After the laudatory sports tributes came news stories in which two of his children disclosed Williams’ nonreligious views, also revealing that their father had signed a pact with them to be frozen after death and kept in “biostasis.” Williams’ children told Reuters on July 25, 2002: “Our father was not a religious man. The faith that many people place in God, we place in science and other human endeavors.”

Photo: Williams in his rookie year in 1939.

Freedom From Religion Foundation