I always knew the first question I wanted to ask Ted Williams if I ever had a chance to question the great Hall of Fame slugger. It was about a statement attributed to him when he was a raw rookie with the Boston Red Sox. It was an amazing statement, breathtaking in its boldness, and I wanted to know if he really said it or if it had been one of those statements invented by a writer and attributed to the man believed by many to be the greatest hitter in the history of baseball.
I was already aware of one statement attributed to Williams that he said he never made. According to the story, when Williams joined the Red Sox, teammate Bobby Doerr, who had preceded Williams in promotion from the Pacific Coast League, told the young slugger about the prowess of the great Jimmy Foxx, who had joined the Red Sox years earlier after several seasons of slugging for the Philadelphia Athletics.
“Wait’ll you see Foxx Hit!” Doerr said.
“Wait’ll Foxx sees me hit!” Williams supposedly replied.
Williams later said he had never said that. “But,” he added with a laugh, “it sounds like something I might have said.”
But the statement that had always intrigued me was this one: “All I want out of life,” he is reputed to have said, “is that when I walk down the street, folks will say, ‘There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.’” Did Williams really make that premature, but ultimately accurate boast, I wondered. Or was that someone rewriting history?
One winter night in 1984, Ted Williams came to Nashua, N.H., to talk about real estate for developer Sam Tamposi, a Nashua resident and part owner of the Red Sox who had a real-estate development in Florida called Citrus Hills, where Williams was a resident. I approached Williams and asked for an interview for a weekly journal published up the road in Manchester.
“Shoot!” he said settling his large frame down in a chair at a table.
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