In baseball and beyond, Williams was a true American hero
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff, 07/06/02
The final flourish
On the first day of his final season, 1960, Williams hit a 450-foot home run in Washington off Camilo Pascual of the Senators. That tied him with Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, who had hit the line drive that Williams caught for his first major league putout in 1939, just days before Gehrig was forced to quit because of his terminal disease.
On June 17, Williams hit his 500th home run, off Cleveland rookie righthander Wynn Hawkins, joining Ruth and Foxx as the only players at the time to reach that number. He hit another home run off Senators pitcher Don Lee, whose father, Thornton Lee, had given up a home run to Williams a generation earlier.
In his final All-Star Game appearance, in Yankee Stadium, Williams pinch hit and singled off Larry Jackson of the Cardinals.
He would finish, at age 42, with a .316 batting average, just 4 points behind teammate Pete Runnels, the league’s batting champion.
"What Will We Do Without Ted? Hub Fans Ask,’’ read a headline on Sept. 28, 1960, the last day the Red Sox were scheduled to play at home that season.
There was an announced crowd of 10,454 watching when Williams, who had walked and flied out twice, came to bat in the eighth inning and hit the third pitch he saw from Fisher into the Boston bullpen. He ran around the bases, Updike said, "like a feather caught in a vortex.’’
When the next inning began, Williams trotted out to his left field position. Following right behind was Carroll Hardy, who replaced Williams as The Kid returned to the dugout, awash in one final ovation. Williams instructed the batboy, Bobby Sullivan, to deliver his bat to Yawkey in the owners’ box.
The Red Sox traveled to New York for the final two games of the season. Williams did not go with them. His playing career was over.
"If there was ever a man born to be a hitter,’’ he once said, "it was me.’’
Larry Whiteside and Pete Goodwin of the Globe staff contributed to this report.