Schultz: Ted Williams and the unwritten rules of celebration

From Ken Schultz at Baseball Prospectus on February 28, 2019:

Ted Williams is most commonly identified with the images of precisely two of his 521 career home runs. One, naturally, was the triumphant last-at-bat homer that inspired John Updike to write:

Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs—hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn’t tip his cap.

The only other Williams homer that rivals The Kid bidding Hub fans adieu in the popular baseball consciousness was the moment Williams walked off Claude Passeau in the 1941 All-Star Game. When you compare the footage of the two home runs, it becomes clear that this Midsummer Classic starred a Ted Williams who Updike never met.

Take another look at the All-Star walk-off and you’ll see one of the happiest moments of Williams’s career. The instant he connects, he knows the game has been won. As he lopes out of the box, he stares at the ball headed for the Briggs Stadium facade with mouth agape at what he just pulled off. Halfway to first, he claps his hands twice as if he wishes he could join the crowd in applauding his accomplishment. And as he rounds the bag, it appears the only things keeping him from floating off into the clouds are the laws of gravity and the rule that he touch all the bases.

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Originally published: February 28, 2019. Last Updated: February 28, 2019.