In a land far, far away, or possibly right around the corner depending on where you live, was a magical place called Boston. And within the confines of Boston was the kingdom of Fenway Park, which was ruled by the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox were a sports team that played a game called baseball. They were beloved by the people of Boston. And, although many times they broke the hearts of these fair people, the Red Sox treated them with great respect. None of the Sox, however, were more cherished by the people of Boston than Sir Ted Williams.
Sir Ted Williams
Ted Williams was arguably the greatest of all the Red Sox. By the end of his 19 years of service, he had compiled the most impressive of offensive statistics. As a result, he was awarded passage into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (baseball’s version of knighthood). Let us, dear reader, take a look at these lofty numbers, so as to better familiarize our senses with his splendid abilities. If you are a traditionalist, then we will focus on his batting average, his RBIs, and his home runs. His career batting average was .344, with 521 home runs, and 1,839 RBIs. These were numbers worthy of immortalization.
And if you are more concerned with precise analytics then we will focus on On Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). As well as On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS), and On-Base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+). Firstly, Williams is the all-time leader in OBP with .482. And his .634 SLG is second only to Babe Ruth’s .690. His OPS of 1.116 and his OPS+ of 191 both rank second all-time behind, you guessed it, Mr. Ruth.
But did our Teddy Ballgame have some help over his illustrious career? Did the Red Sox have a hand in forwarding his knighthood? Let’s take a look back to 1940 when Williams, in the second year of his career, but already a bonafide star, had a little help from his friends. The Red Sox decided to build a bullpen area in front of the right-center field bleachers in 1940. By doing this they moved the home run fence in closer by 23 feet from the bleacher wall. This was done mostly to benefit Ted Williams and other lefties who would see their normally lazy fly balls turn into home runs. The media picked up on this and started calling the bullpen Williamsburg.
But how much did this really help Williams? Apparently not very much, although without Williamsburg, he might never have passed the prestigious 500 home run mark. With less than two dozen of his home runs landing in the Burg it is safe to say that the Splendid Splinter didn’t rely too much on the shortened fence. Alas, the people of Boston can rest easy knowing their champion of the bat’s spirit lives on with the highest of integrity. And they lived happily ever after (sort of).
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