What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?: A Remembrance

What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?: A Remembrance

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by Richard Ben Cramer
     
 

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Richard Ben Cramer, Pulitzer Prize winner and acclaimed biographer of Joe DiMaggio, decodes this oversized icon who dominated the game and finds not just a great player, but also a great man.

In 1986, Richard Ben Cramer spent months on a profile of Ted Williams, and the result was the Esquire article that has been acclaimed ever since as one of the…  See more details below

Overview

Richard Ben Cramer, Pulitzer Prize winner and acclaimed biographer of Joe DiMaggio, decodes this oversized icon who dominated the game and finds not just a great player, but also a great man.

In 1986, Richard Ben Cramer spent months on a profile of Ted Williams, and the result was the Esquire article that has been acclaimed ever since as one of the finest pieces of sports reporting ever written. Given special acknowledgment in The Best American Sportswriting of the Century and adapted for a coffee-table book called Ted Williams: The Seasons of the Kid, the original piece is now available in this special edition, with new material about Williams's later years. While his decades after Fenway Park were out of the spotlight—the way Ted preferred it—they were arguably his richest, as he loved and inspired his family, his fans, the players, and the game itself. This is a remembrance for the ages.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743247894
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
12/13/2011
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
545,396
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

EVEN IN THE LAST YEARS OF HIS LIFE-even as America and the sub-nation of baseball hungrily re-embraced him-I knew I could provoke surprise (and more than a few arguments) when I said that Ted Williams was not just a great ballplayer, he was a great man.

Reputation dies hard in the baseball nation, and in the larger industry of American iconography. Even at the close of the century, forty years after he'd left the field, there still attached to Ted a lingering whiff of bile from the days when he spat toward booing Fenway fans. And there were heartbroken hundreds who'd freshen that scent with their stories: how he was rude to them when they tried to interrupt him for an autograph or a grip-and- grin photo. (The thousands who got their signa-tures or snapshots found that unremarkable.)

In the northeast corner of the nation, there were still thousands who blamed Ted for never hauling the Red Sox to World Series triumph. (Someone must bear blame for decades of disappointment when their own rooting love was so piquant and pure.) . . . Around New York more thousands still resented Ted-and had to re-duce him-for contesting with Joe DiMaggio for the title of Greatest of the Golden Age. They insisted that Ted never won anything (and reviled him, in short, for never being a Yankee). . . . And westward through the baseball nation-even where the game, not a team, was the pas-sion- historians huffed about his merit (or lack thereof) in left field; the stat-priests essayed talmudic arguments about how many runs he failed to drive in (because he'd never swing at a pitch out of the strike zone); and mil-lions of kindly, casual fans (even those who'd agree Ted was the greatest hitter) seemed comfortable if they could tuck him into some pigeonhole-most often as a minor freak of nature: "Wasn't it true his eyes were twice as good as a normal man's?" ...

They missed the point. It wasn't his eyes, it was the avid mind behind them, and the great heart below. Ted was the greatest hitter because he knew more about that job than anyone else. He studied it relentlessly. If you knew anything about it, he wanted to know it- and RIGHT NOW! He ripped the art into knowable shards, which he then could teach with clarity, with conviction (something he was never short on), and with surprising patience and generosity. That's how he was about anything he loved. It was the love that drove him.

Fans couldn't take their eyes off Ted because they could feel his heart yearning with theirs. His want-in his guilelessness he never could hide it-was ratification for theirs. If the coin of his love flipped, and all they could see was rage-still, it was honest currency, for there was no counterfeit in him. Love and rage make a warrior . . . and in the inarticulate gush of words that attended his death in 2002, the particularity of our loss was lost. There were endless rehearsals of his stats, and comparisons to Ruth, Cobb, Gehrig, DiMaggio (of course), Hornsby, Wagner, Mays, Aaron, Barry Bonds . . . there was solemn reference to his service as a pilot in two wars, and speculation on where Ted might have pro-truded from the great number-pile if he hadn't lost those five prime years . . . there were interviews that seemed intent on reassuring fans that Ted was a nice guy. But he wasn't a nice guy. He was an impossibly high-wide-and-handsome, outsized, obstreperous major-league over-load of a man who dominated dugouts and made grand any ground he played on-because his great warrior heart could fill ten ballparks. And latterly (here was our loss writ large), he was our link to that time before baseball became just another arm of the entertainment cartel.

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Meet the Author

Richard Ben Cramer (1950-2013) won the Pulitzer Prize for Middle East reporting in 1979. His journalism has appeared in TimeNewsweekThe New York Times MagazineEsquire, and Rolling Stone. He is the author of How Israel Lost: The Four Questions and the classic of modern American politics What It Takes: The Way to the White House.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Maryland
Date of Birth:
June 20, 1950

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What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?: A Remembrance 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ted Williams was the greatest hitter in baseball history. This descriptive book looks at Ted Williams at a different angle, from his games at Fenway Park to his fishing life in southern Florida. Mr. Cramer captures the life of Ted Williams on and off the field. Mr. Cramer revealed many unknown facts about Ted Williams, as he looked at Ted Williams in many ways such as a very kind loving man and then as a greedy selfish person. Mr. Cramer does this very frequently in the book which causes to change your feelings on Ted. Ted can be thought of a generous man who generously donates sums of money to various charities, or even as a cranky old man who only thinks of himself. Mr. Cramer also has another book on Joe Dimaggio another great baseball player, and he writes very similarly in both books. While reading this story I made a few connections to baseball players today. Many baseball players today are very open and generous people who help many charities and are willing to help most causes. This is like Ted Williams. However, some players choose not to donate and are very surly about attending public places. Ted Williams was also like this, but he truly helped many people during his lifetime and should be remembered for that, not for his grumpy attitude. I think Mr. Cramer made Mr. Williams look too much like a bad guy and not a good person. I enjoyed reading this book very much since baseball is my favorite sport. This book taught me new facts on the game of baseball and how many players choose to retire and decide what to do after they retire. My strategy for reading this book was to read it before I went to sleep. I was not distracted or interrupted this way. I used a lot of visualizing in this book to see how Fenway Park looked 50 years ago. I could also see Ted flying in the sky in his F 7 fighter plane. Did I mention Ted was a World War II and Korean War hero too? When I visualized the old ballparks, I remembered all the baseball movies that I saw, such like 61* and the Jackie Robinson story. This book is a very factual and exciting book. Ted Williams died over the summer at 83 years old, and I think Ted Williams should be remembered as the best hitter of all time, a generous man and kind man, and a war hero rather than a surly and stubborn man. I recommend the book for baseball fans 11 and older.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ted williams probably was the genius that he was portried in this most enlightnig and entertaining book . from what l read it is the ony logical explaination. I hope he does come back in 2110
Anonymous More than 1 year ago