Bud Herron: He swears, that was Ted Williams!


I played one season of baseball with Ted Williams.

Ted had an exceptionally good series of games at the plate that summer and at season’s end sported a .666 batting average. While I could not match that, I finished with a .500 average. Neither of us had any fielding errors.

Ted and I became fast friends and were experts at distracting and unnerving opposing pitchers with volley after volley of chatter from the dugout.

Ted’s command of derogatory vocabulary was particularly outstanding. He could deliver a rapid fire verbal attack — that could be heard all the way to center field — while simultaneously chewing half a dozen pieces of Double Bubble and spitting on the ground between chomps.

Older than me by a year and with skills I could only dream of, Ted was my mentor. He was able to toss nasty words — some of which I had never heard before — into his chatter at will.

The year was 1955 — the first season for each of us in what was called the “Midget League.” (Organizers, I learned later, decided not to organize “Little League” teams to avoid fees and a lot of rules and paperwork.)

I was 10 years old and lived a mile and a half south of town with no playmates except a small brown dog who refused to even fetch a stick. I had never played baseball. Still, I rode my bicycle to town several days each week in the hope the Midget League would make me a star.

I am not sure where Ted lived. In fact, as small as that town was, I lost track of him after that single glorious season and assume he had only spent one summer living nearby with relatives or friends.

The first day at practice the coach and his two teenaged assistants tested everyone’s skills — hitting baseballs at us, having us pair off to play pitch and catch, and seeing who could run the fastest.

After that, we were told what position we would play and paired off again. Ted and I were told we would be substitute right fielders, as need.

Then we were sent off by ourselves to throw a ball back and forth and practice batting.

Evidently, the coach decided our primary skill was dugout chatter, because we did not get to play in most games. If the team was safely ahead in the final inning, one of us would get to run out to right field and stand until the win was safely in the record book.

(I am not sure what Ted did during his times out in right field, but I mostly prayed no one hit the ball to me, since I realized the ball was more likely to hit my nose than my glove.)

The good news was that by season’s end I had been allowed to bat four times. And, miraculously, I was able to slug out two hits for a .500 batting average.

Ted did even better — three at bats and two solid hits, one of which soared past second base and hit the center fielder in the ankle. Thus, a .666 batting average.

Sadly, Ted and I were ejected from the final game of the season when Ted let loose a string of colorful obscenities at the opposing pitcher. (I still contend today that the pitcher must have been the umpire’s son.)

I never played baseball again.

I don’t know what happened to Ted after that season-ending ejection.

However, several years later I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated magazine in the barber shop and read a story about Ted Williams being inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Probably wasn’t the Ted Williams I knew, however. That guy’s best batting average for a season was only .406.

Bud Herron is the retired former editor and publisher of the Daily Journal. Contact him at [email protected].

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