Jackson: When Ted Williams took the mound

From Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times on August 26, 2013:

Ted Williams probably said more nasty things about pitchers than any other hitter. Most hitters reserved their enmity for specific pitchers, but Williams had a mad-on against the position itself. “Pitchers are the dumbest people,” was an oft-heard comment while he was the manager of the Senators/Rangers. Of course, this was three decades after Williams himself took the mound for the Red Sox on an August afternoon in 1940.

The fans who witnessed Ted’s moundsmanship probably didn’t appreciate the historic nature of his two-inning stint because it occurred so early in his career (he was only 21 or 22, depending on what date you accept as his birth date).

Williams broke in with a bang at age 20 in 1939, leading the American League in RBIs (145) and total bases (344). His struggled a bit during portions of his sophomore season, yet he went on to lead the league in runs (134) and OBP (.442) to go along with a .344 average, 23 home runs, and 113 RBIs.

On August 24 of that sophomore season, the Red Sox were playing the Tigers in a Saturday double-header at Fenway Park. The game was tied at one run apiece after two innings, then the Detroit offense took charge, mauling both starter Joe Heving and reliever Yank Terry. The Tigers scored six runs in the third, and added two more in both the fourth and fifth innings to take an 11-1 lead.

Herb Hash (sounds like a menu item at a vegetarian restaurant) came in to restore some order and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, but his holding action was in vain, since the Red Sox offense never got going. After seven innings, Tiger starter Tommy Bridges was still going strong, and the Red Sox’ chances of mounting a comeback were infinitesimal. Sox manager Joe Cronin could have left Hash in the game or gone to another pitcher, but there was more involved than the outcome of the game.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-kid-takes-the-mound/

Originally published: August 26, 2013. Last Updated: August 26, 2013.