On the occasion of Ted Williams’ birthday 100 years ago today, I’m posting another favorite photo of mine of the Splendid Splinter, from 1942, taken by photographer George Burke, believed to be at Comiskey Park, Chicago. Always a popular subject, Ted is seen peering through the other side of a lens for once, through a movie camera of the era (quite a contraption).
Williams was the highlight of many a sports newsreel after the year he had in 1941, where as a 22-23 year old he led the major leagues in no less than 8 offensive categories – Runs, HRs, Walks, Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, Slugging, and OPS/OPS+. The BA, of course, was one for the ages, at .406, which remains the last .400 season in MLB. Just as impressive is his OBP of .553, which was the highest in history until Barry Bonds passed it in 2002. It remains the third-highest OBP season ever. Understandable, as he is the all-time career OBP champ at a heady .482. He would’ve ran away with the 1941 AL MVP Award, if it wasn’t for a guy of similar talent by the name of DiMaggio (he settled for 2nd). He would repeat that feat in 1942 (although he probably should’ve won it over the Yanks’ Joe Gordon), and then it was off to fight a World War for a while. Just a few notes to remind us why we celebrate his birthday 100 years on.
Here’s looking at you, Ted. Happy 100.