Williams showed some real character playing that double-header

1941 was the year of DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, the last summer of peace, and Ted Williams ended up with a .406 batting average.  It is remarkable to go back and see Williams's consistency:

The eventual seventeen-time All-Star began the season going one-for-one with a 1.000 batting average.

Over the rest of the season, his average never fell below .308, and was almost always over .400.

In fact, on July 24, it stood at .397. It would never again fall below .400. Williams wrapped up 1941 at 185-456, good for an average of .406.

While Williams’ batting average garnered all of the attention in 1941, he also led the league in home runs (37), base on balls (147), runs (135), slugging average (.735), and on base percentage (.551).

But here is the best part of the story.  This is where this goes from another baseball story to a triumph of character.

This is where Ted Williams's talent and tenacity were displayed, as remembered in this article by Bill Pennington years ago:

Inside his room at Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 27, 1941, Ted Williams was jumpy and impatient.

That might have been an apt description of the mercurial Williams at most times, but on this evening he had good cause for his unease.

His batting average stood at .39955 with a season-finale doubleheader to be played the next day at Shibe Park, home of Connie Mack’s Athletics. Since batting averages are rounded to the next decimal, Williams could have sat out the final two games and still officially crested baseball’s imposing .400 barrier.

At the time, Williams said, “If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want more than my toenails on the line.”

So he went 6 for 8 and crashed through the .400 barrier.

As we learned later, Williams had many character flaws.  He wasn't the nicest guy in the clubhouse or with the media.  He couldn't even return a salute to the fans at Fenway who cheered his last at bat, a home run, naturally.

Nevertheless, his performance in the last game of 1941 is a lesson for us all.  He could have sat out the double-header and hit .400, or the rounded version of .3995.  Instead, he put everything on the line and came out with a .406 average.

Love him or hate him, I have to love that he was not afraid to put everything on the line.   

As the son of Cuban immigrants, I know a bit out putting everything on the line.  I watched my parents do that several times.  Maybe that's why I admire that quality in Ted Williams so much.

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