This Day in Baseball History: July 25th, 1966

If there was ever a man born to be a hitter, it was me. Can’t disagree.

On July 25, 1966:

Ted Williams makes his Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

To say that the Splendid Splinter was one of the best players of all-time is no exaggeration. In fact, he may be one of the top 5 players of all-time, and he is definitely in the top 5 of all hitters. Of all players with at least 1000 plate appearances, Ted Williams ranks second all-time in OPS+. Babe Ruth, of course, leads with 207, but Williams’ 191 is not too shabby. He was pretty good in the field as well. Not fleet of foot, he had a strong arm and sure glove.

Off the field, he was almost as admirable. Although he didn’t have the greatest relationship with the media or the fans, Williams is still one of the most beloved Red Sox ever. He served in two wars as a fighter pilot (World War II and the Korean War), shunning cushy positions in favor of actual battle missions. Williams was also one of the few players to take a real stand on race relations. When Pumpsie Green became the first African-American Red Sock, Williams was among the first to welcome him to the team.

But his most memorable contribution to African-Americans and baseball may have been in his induction speech. Late in his speech, Williams declares:

Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as anybody else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.

Five years later, Satchel Paige, who didn’t become a major-leaguer until he was 41, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Gibson came next in 1972, and more Negro Leaguers have since been added.

All of this makes me wonder what Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice will say tomorrow. Will they simply thank the committee and the writers, or will they make a statement about the game in general? If they do, will they make it a good one?

Trivia Time

What Hall of Fame player does Williams feel especially indebted to for helping him?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Catfish Hunter took a line drive in the second inning and would be out for a couple weeks following the injury.


One Response to “This Day in Baseball History: July 25th, 1966”

  1. Dan Says:

    Thought it was Owen "Donie" Bush, but he's not a HOFer.

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