HITTER by Ed Linn


The Life and Turmoils of Ted Williams
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 An unusually thoughtful sports bio that puts the accomplishments and contentious nature of Ted Williams into clear perspective. As much a fan as a Boswell, Linn (Steinbrenner's Yankees, 1982, etc.) offers an essentially sympathetic, albeit unsparing, portrait of the last major leaguer to hit over .400 (.406 in 1941). Drawing on personal observations, plus archival sources and interviews with contemporaries, he provides a detailed account of Williams's Hall of Fame career with the Boston Red Sox, which (with time out for military service) ran from 1939 through 1960. Apart from an overview of the Splendid Splinter's lonely childhood in San Diego, however, the author has comparatively little to say about the thrice-married Williams's private life. Instead, Linn focuses on the batting feats and boorish behavior that brought his subject opprobrium as well as acclaim in his largely adversarial relationship with the press, which consistently damned him with faint praise. Covered as well are the disabling injuries and two tours of active duty as a Marine Corps flier (including one in combat during the Korean War) that kept Williams from scaling even greater heights in the record books. The author also discloses Williams's charitable activities, ranging from quiet visits to children's hospitals to painful public appearances on behalf of New England's Jimmy Fund. What Linn does best, though, is to analyze statistical data (e.g., on-base average) to document the genuinely productive value that Williams (now 74) added to his team season after season. An unsentimental appraisal that succeeds in giving human dimensions to a baseball legend and in putting fresh luster on his fabled achievements. (Photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-193100-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993