Enders: The baseball heroes of 1941

From SABR member Eric Enders at MLB.com on June 21, 2016:

Ted Williams, the 23-year-old batting whiz, had spent the wee hours of the night walking the streets of Philadelphia, thinking. It was after dark on a chilly, late September day in 1941. The country was on the brink of war, and Williams was on the brink of one of the toughest decisions of his life. Accompanied by a friend, he meandered for hours. They stopped twice for ice cream. They stopped twice for scotch. And, finally, Williams arrived at his decision: He would not accept his manager’s offer to sit out the following day’s doubleheader to protect his .3995 batting average. He would play. He would go for broke. He would hit .400 legitimately, or not at all.

Williams’ plan to play the final day of the season made him nervous, because the scheduled pitchers for the Philadelphia A’s were both September call-ups whom he had never faced. Other great hitters might have viewed the two rookies as easy prey, but Williams, a stickler for preparation, felt naked when facing unfamiliar pitchers. But in his final at-bat, he cracked a line-drive single to raise his average to .4009.

In his next at-bat, he hit a home run. Williams spent the afternoon knocking the ball all over Shibe Park, finishing the doubleheader 6 for 8 and upping his final batting average to .406.

Read the full article here: http://m.mlb.com/news/article/184398148/1941-joe-dimaggio-hit-streak-ted-williams

Originally published: June 24, 2016. Last Updated: June 24, 2016.