Ted Williams was born on August 30, 1918, in San Diego. He grew up in the North Park neighborhood, at 4121 Utah Street, and graduated from Herbert Hoover High School. He had offers to play professional baseball from the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees, while he was still in high school but his mother thought he was too young to leave home, so he signed up with a local minor league club, known as the San Diego Padres. Williams posted a .271 batting average on 107 at bats in 42 games for the Padres in 1936 and caught the eye of the Boston Red Sox’s general manager. in !937, the general manager for the Red Sox made a deal with the Padres general manager and traded Williams for $35,000, two major leaguers, and two minor leaguers.
In 1938, at the age of 19, Ted borrowed $200 from a bank so he could travel to spring training in Florida. After a week of spring training he was sent to play with the Minneapolis Millers and then the Boston Red Sox.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II. In January of 1942, Ted was drafted into the military under a Class-1A status, which should have been Class 3-A, because he was the sole support of his mother. Ted hired an attorney who took the case to the Appeals Board and then the Presidential Board to get Ted reclassified to Class 3-A. The public’s reaction was extremely negative, resulting in a loss of sponsors, like Quaker Oats and possibly losing the MVP vote.
Ted then joined the Navy Reserve in May of 1942 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He attended training in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Amherst, Massachusetts and continued with his baseball career.
On August 18, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ted was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While he was there, he played baseball in the Army League with Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, and Stan Musial. The Service World Series with the Army versus the Navy attracted crowds of 40,000 for each game. The players said it was better than the actual World Series being played between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs that year.
on January 28, 1946, Ted was discharged from the Marine Corps and he joined the Red Sox with a $37,500 contract. In 1949, he got a new salary of $100,000 ($995,000 in today’s money).
On January 9, 1952, Ted was recalled from the inactive reserves to serve in the Korean War. He attended eight weeks of refresher flight training and qualification in the F9F Panther jet at Cherry Point, North Carolina. He was then assigned to VMF-311, Marine Aircraft Group 33, based at the K-3 airfield in Pohang, South Korea. It was here that Ted served in the same unit with, future astronaut John Glenn and Ted was Glenn’s wingman in some of 39 combat missions in Korea. Ted earned three Air Medals before being withdrawn from flight status, due to a hospitalization for pneumonia. His hospitalization resulted in the discovery of an inner ear infection that disqualified him from flight status.
Following his return to the United States in August 1953, he resigned his Reserve commission to resume his baseball career.
Through 2011, Williams was one of seven major league players to have had at least four 30-home run and 100-RBI seasons in their first five years.
Ted passed away on July 5, 2002, from cardiac arrest at Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, Florida, near his home.
You can find Ted’s biography on Amazon.