On This Day in 1946, Former Boston Red Sox Outfielder Ted Williams Returned to Baseball

By Justin Söderberg
Ted Williams Stamp (Photo: Bob DeChiara - USA TODAY Sports)
Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

Arguably one of the best players in the history of the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams. On February 26, 1946, after missing three seasons serving for his country in World War II, the Red Sox outfielder returns to play the game he loved. In his 1946 spring training debut, Williams hits the first pitch he sees out of the park for a home run.

His his 19 seasons with the Red Sox, the Hall of Famer had 2,654 hits, 521 home runs, batted in 1,839 runs, batted .344 and had an OBP of .482 in 2292 games. He was an All-Star in all of his 19 seasons. Over his illustrious career, Williams was named the MLB’s Most Valuable Player twice, won the AL Triple Crown twice, was a six time AL batting champion, four time AL home run champion and AL RBI champion. When he retired from baseball in 1960, Williams sat third all-time behind Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx in career home runs. His career batting average is the highest of any player who played his entire career in the live-ball era following 1920.

Teddy Ballgame, one of his most famous nicknames, had his #9 retired by the Red Sox in 1984, one of only eight numbers retired by the Red Sox (including Jackie Robinson’s #42). Williams is also known for hitting the longest home run at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The home run came on June 9, 1946, the same year he returned from his military service. The official measurement was 502 feet. The spot where the ball landed is now marked with a red seat (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21), the lone red seat in the right field bleachers.

One of his most memorable and final public appearances came in 1999 at the MLB All-Star Game at Fenway Park. Williams was brought to the pitcher’s mound on a golf cart, due to the fact he could only walk a short distance. He proudly waved his cap to the crowd — a gesture he had never done as a player. The thousands in attendance responded with a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. He was then surrounded by players from both teams, including former Red Sox shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra.

Williams had a pacemaker put in November of 2000 and underwent open-heart surgery three months later, in January 2001. In the last six months of his life, Williams suffered a series of strokes and congestive heart failure. Williams passed away on July 5, 2012 at Citrus Memorial Hospital, Inverness, Florida. The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived, was 83-years-old.

On this day in baseball history, we remember the return of Teddy Ballgame to the game of baseball after his loyal service to the United States of America.

Justin Soderberg is a Boston Red Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google. To read more articles from Justin Soderberg, click here.

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