Results tagged ‘ ted williams ’

Ted Williams, My Father

By Paul Hagen /

tedwilliamsmyfatherTed Williams was one of the best hitters who ever lived. He was also a famously did-it-my-way sort known for, among other things, saying whatever was on his mind and to heck with the consequences.

In “Ted Williams, My Father,” Claudia Williams demonstrates that she is very much her father’s daughter. She has written a memoir that is tender and tough, poignant and heartbreaking, sweet and raw. And so honest that at times it feels like peeping into a stranger’s window.

Claudia was a product of her father’s second marriage, born a decade after he retired. She was largely raised by her mother. One theme that runs through these pages is her overwhelming need to be accepted by a father who doted on her brother John Henry and, if not a misogynist, held old-fashioned attitudes toward women. “You wouldn’t believe how many times during my young years I wished I had been born a boy,” she observes early on.

There’s a revealing story about an invitational cross-country race when she was in sixth grade. She had a chance to be the first girl to win it. Making the outcome even more crucial, her father was there. She was third going into the home stretch but, summoning every bit of determination she had, she ended up winning. It was a wonderful moment that she wanted to bask in with her dad. But the other parents came up and started asking him for autographs and she was gradually pushed aside.

Claudia is a talented writer. Example: “Although my father spanked me only once, he tested me on numerous occasions. His words could penetrate even the toughest armor, and many times his words stung for days — sometimes months. A few are still with me, like embedded splinters.”

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‘Guaranteed’ to make you look

I included “Guaranteed to Last: L.L. Bean’s Century of Outfitting America” in our spring review sampler on because the New England company has paralleled the national pastime as an American outdoor institution with especially key ties to their beloved local Red Sox. We liked the book so much that we are going to share a few pictures that the company has graciously made available to us. Not all of them are in the actual pages but are in their massive archives.

A rare 1934 Babe Ruth signed photo. The Sultan of Swat, who wears a pair of Bean boots in the book, calls L.L. Bean “a hunter’s delight. Ruth was at the end of his career, hitting 22 homers and making one last All-Star team in his final year as a Yankee legend, before coming home to Boston as a frail National Leaguer in a 1935 Braves swan song.

Babe Ruth












This is what a Bean Brothers’ baseball bat looked like. Look at that grip!

Bean Bat




Republished from the book, this letter is the very definition of Ted Williams swagger. He tried to make Bean an offer he couldn’t refuse, but alas the company was not sold to the outdoorsy Splendid Splinter.

Ted Williams Letter














— Mark Newman


Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

As the Red Sox and other baseball fans commemorate Tuesday’s 50th anniversary of Ted Williams’ final and famous at-bat, we are waxing nostalgic with a wonderful little commemorative edition of John Updike’s 10/22/60 The New Yorker essay about the event. Updike prepared the bound reissue just before his own passing in January 2009. They’re both gone now, two greats in their own fields, and today they are intertwined in baseball history, as you can see with this presentation by The Library of America.

HubFansBidKidAdieu.jpgThe essay itself is the biggest reason to buy the book, simply to read it again and put yourself back in time at that “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark.” There are more reasons, though. One is the replication of Updike’s original manuscript, printed oversize onto the inside of the front and back covers, rendering his own hand-editing marks and manual-typewriter strike-thrus. And more importantly, Updike also included the footnotes that he had added in a 1965 collection, Assorted Prose, elaborating on key points in the original essay.

For example, Updike wrote this in 1960: “Hence his refusal to tip his cap to the crowd or turn the other cheek to newsmen.” There is a “3” footnote after “cap” and then you read at the bottom of the page: “But he did tip his cap, high off his head, in at least his first season, as cartoons from that period verify. He was also extravagantly cordial to taxi drivers and stray children…” Such elaborations are very important if you’ve only read the original.

Updike begins the new Preface by writing: “‘Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu’ was a five days’ labor of love executed and published in October 1960. For many years, especially since moving to Greater Boston, I had been drawing sustenance and cheer from Williams’ presence on the horizon, and I went to his last game with the open heart of a fan.”

Now we remember Teddy Ballgame’s legacy and his singular sendoff . . . and also the way it was captured in some of the best baseball prose there ever was. — Mark Newman

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