The Bill Chuck Files overflow each day with stats, factoids, and observations that are sometimes relevant, sometimes irrelevant, and sometimes simply intriguing. At the start of each Sox series, I will share some of these in my “Nine to Know,” and I hope you will do the same.
Saturday is the anniversary of the birth of the greatest hitter in Red Sox history, and arguably one of the top five greatest hitters of all-time, Ted Williams.
The Splendid Splinter was born on August 30, 1918 in San Diego, California and made his debut for the Sox, the only team he ever played for, on April 20, 1939.
Yeah, he was 20-years old. Yeah, he drove home 145 runs that rookie season. But, he was a rookie and you know rookies. He only hit .327, but he struck out 67 times. Oh, he made 675 plate appearances that season but no, he never struck out that many times in a season ever again.
He retired following the 1960 season, the last season before expansion. That famous last at-bat homer on September 28, 1960 occurred in only his 390th plate appearance that year.
He only hit .316 that final season. He only hit 29 homers that season. He only had a .451 OBP and a 1.096 OPS that season. He was, after all, 42 years old.
Boston Red Sox (58-75 – 29-35 on the road – scored 512 runs/allowed 584) @ Tampa Bay Rays (65-69 – 29-36 at home – scored 523 runs/allowed 508)
As you are watching what we mistakenly thought in April would be a big series, for those who don’t know some of Ted’s achievements, or for those of you who may have forgotten, here’s a really brief reminder.
Nine to Know: #9
1. In 1941, Ted Williams hit .401. Brock Holt leads the Sox in batting this season at .291. If you don’t think that provides enough perspective. That season, Williams slugged .735. Holt is slugging .390 and David Ortiz is slugging .523. Ponder those numbers for a while.
2. In 9788 career plate appearances, Ted Williams struck out 709 times. Dwight Evans had 10,240 PA with the Sox and Dewey struck out 1,643 times. Evans had 452 more PA and 943 more whiffs.
3. Staying on strikeouts: This season, Xander Bogaerts has had 10 games with at least three strikeouts; Jackie Bradley Jr. has had seven, and Mike Napoli and Brock Holt have had six each. Ted Williams never struck out more than three times in a game and only struck out three times in a game three times.
4. One more: In the first 245 games of Mike Napoli’s Sox career, he has struck out 307 times. Over the last 10 years of Ted’s career, he played 1019 games and struck out 312 times.
5. He didn’t do it all: Wade Boggs had seven, Jim Rice had four, Dustin Pedroia has one, but Ted Williams never had a 200-hit season. His best were 194 hits in 1949 and 193 hits in 1940.
6. Other than Ted, only seven Red Sox have ever hit .343 or better in a season. Wade Boggs did it five times, Nomar Garciaparra did it in 1999 and 2000, and Manny Ramirez did it in 2002. Ted’s lifetime batting average was .344.
7. Dustin Pedroia leads the Sox this season with 62 games in which he got on base at least twice. He has played 129 games. In 1958, Ted played 129 games and got on base twice in 80 games. Oh, and Ted was 39 years old.
8. Ted’s lifetime OBP was .482. That means that 48 times out every hundred times he came to the plate, he ended up on base. He knew the strike zone as well as any batter. In the 1941, ‘42, and ’46 seasons (he didn’t play 1943-45 because he was brilliantly serving our country), Ted walked 448 times. The entire Sox team this season has walked 456 times.
9. Maybe the name Carroll Hardy will win you a beer sometime: As you can imagine, Ted didn’t get pinch-hit for that frequently, but on September 20, 1960 Hardy hit for Williams and lined into a double play. Hardy also pinch-hit for Roger Maris on May 18, 1958 and hit a three-run homer, and completed the trifecta pinch-hitting a bunt single for Carl Yastrzemskion May 31, 1961.
See you in September (somebody should make that a song). On Tuesday, the Sox head to the Stadium as they continue to act as spoilers against the Yankees.