Nowlin: I wrote Ted Williams’ last words

From SABR member Bill Nowlin at The National Pastime Museum on April 12, 2017:

Ted Williams was my hero as I grew up a Red Sox fan in Greater Boston.

The first time I met him, though, was at spring training one year when the Red Sox were in Winter Haven. It was the spring of 1988 and my friend Henry Horenstein was working on a book with Walt Hriniak. Henry was going to Florida for spring training, so I tagged along for a couple of days. Ted was the last one out of the Red Sox clubhouse; there were maybe 20 people clustered around outside. He made a beeline for a boy in a wheelchair and chatted with him for a couple of minutes, then said “Gotta go to work” and stepped onto a golf cart to take him down to the lower fields. There he watched some of the prospects bat and offered comments. Over time, some of the dozen or so who had followed him went up and got an autograph.

Finally, there were just two left. He quietly growled, “What have you got there?” and signed something for the other guy and a baseball for me. As he was signing the baseball, I said, “Mr. Williams, I just wanted you to know that I had my tonsils out when I was six years old and you sent my father a signed picture made out to me. It’s been on my wall ever since.” His response was one syllable, something like “Unhhh.”

I wasn’t offended. I thought that was the perfect response. I took my ball and left him alone to keep working.

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Originally published: April 12, 2017. Last Updated: April 12, 2017.