Enberg on Williams: 'He wanted to be cremated'
SAN DIEGO -- Sportscaster Dick Enberg punctuated his comments at a tribute to Ted Williams with a plea to the Hall of Famer's son to end the controversy over his remains.
"If John Henry is listening, let the old fisherman go back to the sea,'' Enberg said Monday in ending a 30-minute speech during a ceremony at the San Diego Hall of Champions to honor Williams, a native of San Diego.
Williams died July 5 at age 83 after a long illness, setting off a family feud. Williams' son, John Henry, arranged for his father's remains to be sent to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a cryonics lab in Scottsdale, Ariz., to be frozen.
John Henry's half sister, Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, said Ted Williams had expressed that he wanted his body cremated. She accused her half brother of wanting to preserve the body in hopes of future financial gain.
Enberg became friends with Williams in recent years. Enberg idolized the baseball legend, even naming a son, now 14, after Williams.
"I think there's no doubt anyone who knew Ted knew what he wanted to have done when he passed away,'' Enberg said after the tribute. "He wanted to be cremated. He wanted to have his ashes dumped out across the Florida Keys where the water's really deep and where he used to catch the big fish. That's where he wanted to be. How sad it is that his wishes haven't been recognized.''
In 1969, Enberg did play-by-play for the California Angels and Williams was managing the Washington Senators. When Enberg approached Williams for a pregame interview, Williams ignored Enberg's request until Enberg said he wouldn't ask Williams a single question about hitting.
"He flinched,'' Enberg said. "I said, `I want to ask you about that game in 1940 against Detroit when you pitched an inning and two-thirds.' He looked at me and came over and grabbed me around the neck and pulled me in and said, `Come here, Meat.' An endearing term in the sport of baseball, I trust.''
The San Diego Hall of Champions, founded by Bob Breitbard, a high school classmate of Williams', houses both of Williams' AL MVP plaques and an autographed bat that Williams used in 1941 when he hit .406.
Among the sports figures attending the tribute were basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton, 1976 NL Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones and Ray Boone, a teammate of Williams in 1960.