On the strength of Ted Williams’ thumping bat, the not-to-be denied Red Sox outscored the Indians, 11‚10, in the first game of a twin bill today and then went on to take the second by a more moderate score, 6‚4. The double triumph stretched Boston’s American League lead to 11 games over the second-place Yankees. All Theodore Samuel Williams did in the first game was clout three homers and a single, drive in eight runs and score four times. Ted the Kid thus joined a large group of sluggers who have belted three homers in a single contest.
Lou Boudreau, Cleveland pilot who in the nightcap set up the most unusual defense against Williams ever seen in Fenway Park, also had himself a time in the opener. Boudreau hit a homer and four successive doubles in that first game during which the two teams sprayed hits all over and out of the field.
When Williams went to bat in the second game, during which he received his ninety- fifth and ninety-sixth bases on balls, Shortstop Boudreau concentrated six men in right field. The Cleveland manager played back on the grass midway between first and second. Jimmy Wasdell, the first sacker, posted himself on the grass near the foul line. The third baseman was on the grass on the right side of second base and the right and center fielders patrolled as deep as possible in that sector. The set-up was successful once when Boudreau snagged a hot grounder and threw Thumpin’ Theodore out at first. The first time Williams batted in the second contest he lined a double down the right field foul line. The smash was just too high for Wasdell, who leaped with his gloved hand outstretched.
Williams’ first four-sacker, on a oneand- nothing pitch off Steve Gromek, was a tremendously high smash which bounded off the top of the wall between the bull pen and the right field bleachers, more than 400 feet from the plate. His second was a line drive on the first ball thrown by Don Black in the fifth inning. That landed in the runway between the bleachers and grandstand in right field and bounced high into the stands. Williams’ third four-ply poke was another liner which screamed into the stands where they curve in deep right. The first homer came with the bases filled and the third was belted while two mates were aboard.
Ted Williams may well have been the greatest hitter in the history of baseball. That an opposing team would concentrate six men on the right side of the field, conceding him a hit to left, hints at the respect in which he was held.
Williams remains the last of the .400 hitters, having batted .406 in 1941, his third big-league season. He hit .388 at age 39 in 1958, was an All-Star 17 of the 18 full seasons he played, had a lifetime average of .344 and, as a career codicil, hit a home run in his last at-bat at age 42 (see Sept. 28). Williams lost three full seasons in his prime during World War II and most of two others during the Korean War yet still came within 300-odd hits of 3,000. Ever opinionated, frequently contrary, he died at age 83 in 2002.