Ted Williams Never Played Against Computers



On September 28, the 1941 season ended with Boston Red Sox Outfielder Ted Williams as the last player to hit .400 in a season.

It was the apostle Thomas who doubted the resurrection of Jesus. He had to touch the wounds of Jesus in order to believe. I never saw Ted Williams or even Joe DiMaggio play, but I think both left records that believers in the game would argue will never be broken. Hitting .400 or hitting in 56 straight games seems impossible these days. We can mention in conversation that records are made to be broken but we say this while food is stuck between our teeth. Ignorance is sometimes responsible for its own embarrassment.

The culture of baseball has changed. There is more travel involved, teams flying from one city to another. More night games and a longer season. Technology now helps with the positioning of players in the field. Ted Williams never had to play against computers. Starting pitchers no longer pitch 9 innings. I’m curious to know how many hits Ted Williams had between the 7th and 9th innings. Today’s hitters have to face relief pitchers throwing almost 100 mph.

During my lifetime the one player I thought might be capable of hitting .400 was Ichiro Suzuki. He used his bat like a wand. At times he could be a wizard at the plate. Suzuki was also a fast base runner. I am surprised that no one talks about how fast Ted Williams ran or how many times he bunted. I imagine him slow and having a dislike for a ball to only kiss the cheek of his bat.

I suspect any player who eventually hits .400 would have to be extremely hot at the start of a season and stay that way until the All-Star game. The player would also need plate patience and be willing to walk a lot. Hitting .400 requires the discipline in knowing when not to swing.

But during these days of walk-up music and bat flips, the gift of serious hitting has become a lost art. This is why I doubt anyone will hit .400 during the last years of my life. How difficult to carry the “cross” of Ted Williams, to shoulder the weight of his greatness.