I knew my sister, Molly, a reporter for DailyExpertNews, was scheduled to interview Ted about food, fishing, and, of course, a little baseball. When Molly told me about this, I was impressed that my older sister was ready to talk to one of the greatest hitters of all time. I jokingly told Molly that I was having a hard time and that she should tell Ted I needed some advice. Still, I never expected that Molly’s visit to Ted’s house would lead to him contacting me. All this brought me back to the boy whose proud father had told him his swing was reminiscent of Williams’s. I couldn’t match Williams’ swing or his performance, but I was dizzy talking to the man himself.
To this day, even with my sister’s connection and her gentle or forceful nudges, I’m still amazed that Ted wanted to call me. I was even more surprised when Ted said, “I bet you don’t hit the ball the other way.” That comment gave me goosebumps because it showed that Ted knew how to hit to be productive. To be successful, I had to look for fields in the center or on the outside of the plate and hit the ball to the opposite field. So the legendary Ted Williams—a pull-hitter who was also talented enough to adapt and hit the ball in the middle or the other way—knew my approach.
“You know what?” I answered. “You’re right. I ended up on my front too soon.” A minute into the conversation, I was already trying to process how surreal it was that Ted Williams – the Ted Williams – evaluated me as a hitter. Ted won six batting titles, two MVPs, made nineteen All-Star teams, was the last man to hit more than .400 (in 1941), and finished his phenomenal career with a .344,521 home runs and an all-time record .482 on base percentage. He was the hero who also twice interrupted his career to serve our country in World War II and Korean War. And he talked it over to me! It was such an inspiring and nerve-wracking phone call because I absorbed every word Ted uttered. But I also felt that I had to ask a hundred questions before the voice of God came out. I didn’t want to interrupt him, so I let him lead the conversation and, sure enough, Ted said something that made me smile and make me feel like I’d done something right as a batter.
The 2022 MLB Season
‘Relax, okay? Don’t try to take everyone out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides, they are fascist. Throw some ground balls, it’s more democratic.”
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“Don’t let anyone change you,” Ted barked.
As much as any other advice I’ve ever been given, those words resonated with me because they matched how I’ve always felt. A stubborn and serious batter, I was committed to my approach to swinging level and elevating to a light uppercut to hit line drives. I believed in that swing and still believe in it. Hearing Williams say that a batter shouldn’t be changed by anyone was one of the highlights of the conversation, and it was something I could have listened to all day.
Frankly, I expected Ted to emphasize that, because that’s what he’d written in “The Science of Hitting,” his seminal book dissecting the hardest thing in the sport: hitting a baseball. I can’t remember the first time I picked up the book, but I do remember being charmed by it. There’s a photo of Ted on the cover, his front foot slightly lifted, his eyes on the baseball and body language screaming, “I’m about to crush this field.” Ted wrote that Lefty O’Doul, who hit .349 in his career, told him, “Son, whatever you do, don’t let anyone change your style. Your style is yours.” Ted obeyed, so did I.