Did You Know?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox is generally considered the greatest pure hitter in baseball history. The splendid splinter was a 19 time All-Star, a six time batting champion, a four time home run king and won the RBI title on four occasions.

Williams was selected to major league baseball's All-Century team and its All-Time team. Williams finished his career with 521 home runs, over 1,800 RBI and a lifetime batting average of .344. Williams' stats would have been even more incredible had he not missed five seasons serving his country in World War II and the Korean conflict. The three years Williams served during WWII were the prime years of his career, ages 24-26. It is projected that had Williams not served in the military, his career totals would have approached 700 home runs, 3,500 hits and a whopping 2,700 RBI, the latter being an all-time record.

Williams was also a two time Most Valuable Player award winner. But did you know that Williams' best three seasons, which were three of the greatest single years in baseball history, went unrewarded? In 1942 and 1947, Williams won the Triple Crown, leading the league in homers, RBI and average; yet, Joe Gordon and Joe DiMaggio, both of the New York Yankees, edged the Red Sox slugger for the league's top honors those two seasons despite putting up inferior numbers. It's the only time in baseball history that a Triple Crown winner failed to claim the MVP award, and it happened to Williams not once, but twice.

However, Williams' 1941 season, considered by many to be the best offensive year ever for a major leaguer, left the Red Sox great on the outside looking in once again. Williams belted 37 homers to lead the league and hit .406, the last player in baseball history to accomplish the feat. He also drove in 120 runs. But it was DiMaggio who claimed the American League MVP award on the strength of his incredible 56 game hitting streak. DiMaggio's numbers read 30 homers, 125 RBI and a .357 batting mark.

It's debatable, but perhaps Williams' ongoing feud with the media cost him at least three MVP honors. Williams posted an eye popping .388 at the age of 38, when most ball players are well past their prime. The Red Sox legend closed his career by homering in his last at bat, a fitting end to a Hall of Fame career.

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