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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Two Grand Finales for Teddy Ballgame
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
Sept. 28, 1941
The idea of his .39955 batting average being rounded up to .400 doesn't sit well with Ted Williams. So, on the final day of the season, Williams refuses to sit out and risks his ".400" average. The 23-year-old Boston Red Sox cleanup-hitter raps his major league-leading 37th homer and three singles in five at-bats in the opener of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics, raising his average to .404.
The Splendid Splinter doesn't sit out the nightcap either, getting a double and single in three at-bats in a game called after eight innings because of darkness. He finishes the season at .406, the first player to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930 and the last to do it this century. He goes 185-for-456 with 120 RBIs. He also leads the majors with 135 runs and 145 walks while striking out just 27 times.
Sept. 28, 1960
Teddy Ballgame says good-bye with a bang. In the bottom of the eighth inning, in the final plate appearance of his career, Ted Williams raps a pitch from Baltimore's Jack Fisher 425 feet onto the roof of the Red Sox bullpen at Fenway Park. As he circles the bases with the 521st homer, the crowd of 10,454 explodes in love, giving him a rousing ovation.
Williams, who has had a love-hate relationship with the fans during his 19 seasons in Boston, doesn't tip his hat. When he reaches the dugout, the joy-drunk fans chant, "We want Williams! We want Williams!" But the Splendid Splinter refuses to come out for a curtain call.
He gets one anyway. He's sent out to left-field for the top of the ninth and then before the inning starts, he's replaced by Carroll Hardy. In he races, with a sheepish grin on his face, while the fans give him one final thunderous salute.
After the game, the 42-year-old Williams says he won't make the trip to New York for the Red Sox's final three games of the season. He retires third all-time in home runs, second in slugging percentage (.634) and first in on-base percentage (.483).
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