Keene: Ted Williams met George H.W. Bush in combat pilot training, and their friendship endured

From SABR member Anne Keene at the Dallas Morning News on October 27, 2018:

In the summer of 1942, the names of future President George H.W. Bush and Boston Red Sox slugger Theodore Samuel Williams were typed on the same page of a memorandum sent to the chief of naval personnel. This 76-year-old enlistment memo, shelved in an ocean of military files at the National Archives in St. Louis, survived a fire in 1973. Fraying with time, the delicate onion-skin record preserved a story of two ballplayers from different backgrounds who dared to become fighter pilots in the prime of their lives.

On his 18th birthday Bush enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a seaman second class after graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover. Williams was 23 years old when he signed up for the same V-5 Naval Aviation Cadet training program — one of the fastest and most dangerous training routes for an enlisted man to earn his commission as a pilot.

On May 22, 1942, a publicity still of the Red Sox hitter electrified the baseball world when Williams posed in a wrinkled khaki trench coat, raising his hand to recite the oath against a backdrop of recruiting posters. Three weeks later, the former captain of the Andover baseball team was sworn into the Navy at that same recruiting station, located on Causeway Street in Boston.

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Originally published: November 12, 2018. Last Updated: November 12, 2018.