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The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams Hardcover – December 3, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2013: In an age of performance enhancing drugs and a culture of wealth and deceit in professional sports, it's refreshing to revisit the feats of one of baseball’s best: the last man to hit .400 in a season, with a lifetime .344 batting average, who played remarkable baseball until age 40 and who reigns as the best all-around hitter in history. What sets this exhaustive exploration apart from other Ted Williams biographies is the author's finesse at maintaining a fan's enthusiasm for his remarkable subject while confronting the warts-and-all reality of an imperfect hero. Boston Globe reporter-editor Ben Bradlee Jr. admits at the start that Williams was, indeed, "my hero." Still, Bradlee never shies from dark side of the Williams myth: the insecure immigrant's son; the imperfect father and husband; the raging hothead, who flaunted his disdain for the press and a few teammates. Bradlee spent a decade investigating every detail of Williams’s 83 years--and beyond. He even uncovers gruesome tidbits about the strange aftermath of Williams’s death in 2002, when his body was taken to a cryonics facility, his head severed and then frozen inside a Tuperware-like container. Passionately researched and artfully told, this is much more than a sports story; it's the sprawling saga of a talented, tenacious, tumultuous, one-of-a-kind American man. --Neal Thompson


"Bradlee's sumptuous biography details an extraordinary American life while showing us how that life morphed into legend. The Kid reads like an epic, starting before Williams's birth in 1918, outlining his Anglo and Mexican heritage growing up in Southern California, and continuing after his death in 2002 to the present. Bradlee has given us the fullest exploration yet of his monumental ego and the best explanation for his vast inferiority complex....The book is packed with great moments." ---Allen Barra, Boston Globe

"What distinguishes Bradlee's The Kid from the rest of Williams lit is, its size and the depth of its reporting. Bradlee seemingly talked to everyone, not just baseball people but Williams's fishing buddies, old girlfriends, his two surviving wives and both of his daughters, and he had unparalleled access to Williams family archives. His account does not materially alter our picture of Williams the player, but fills it in with much greater detail and nuance....Bradlee's expansiveness enables his book to transcend the familiar limits of the sports bio and to become instead a hard-to-put-down account of a fascinating American life. It's a story about athletic greatness but also about the perils of fame and celebrity, the corrosiveness of money and the way the cycle of familial resentment and disappointment plays itself out generation after generation." ---Charles McGrath, New York Times Book Review

"Superb....Ted Williams hated what he considered invasions of his privacy, but perfectionist that he was, he would probably have to concede that the work ethic that underpins The Kid is exemplary. Mr. Bradlee, who was a reporter and editor at the Boston Globe for 25 years, spent 10 years researching and writing this book; he interviewed about 600 people and seems to have read everything about and by Williams. But research alone doesn't make The Kid a first-rate biography. The author was able to organize the great mass of data into a lucid and readable whole and-most important-bring his subject and the people around him to provocative and stormy life. When I began reading this book, I thought that only baseball fans would find it interesting. But after finishing The Kid, I suspect that even those indifferent to the sport might find its human drama absorbing." ---Howard Schneider, Wall Street Journal

"Fun to read....The prose is breezy, the research and reporting are impeccable....This book very much sets out to be the definitive document of a great, complicated, fascinating person and ultimately, it succeeds....The context Bradlee provides---the heavy detailing, the quotes and anecdotes---brings the reader inside Williams's psychology, to the extent that that's possible....You're happy for everything you've learned in this giant book. Because it has portrayed the man in full." ---Dave Bry, Slate

"Fans seeking a complete picture of the beloved star who inspired a slew of nicknames now have but one place to turn. This complex figure comes to life in The Kid, an absorbing 854-page biography by longtime Boston Globe reporter and editor Ben Bradlee Jr. Based on some 600 interviews that reflect more than a decade of research, this is surely the definitive Ted Williams book....Bradlee's brilliant account is required reading for any Red Sox fan. It's also a fascinating portrait of a complex character that a baseball agnostic or even a Yankees fan will find hard to put down." ---Jerry Harkavy, Associated Press

"A work of obvious journalistic muscle and diligence, The Kid provides documentary evidence on every page to bolster the book's presumption that Williams was, to use the cliché, larger than life....Mr. Bradlee writes a graceful sentence and crafts a cogent paragraph. His authorial attitude is one of restraint, generally letting the flood of his facts and quotations from interviews speak for themselves." ---Bruce Weber, New York Times

"Required reading." ---Billy Heller, New York Post

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316614351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316614351
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on December 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whew! It has taken me two weeks to pioneer my way through this detailed biography of Ted Williams authored by Ben Bradlee, Jr. but the effort was worth it. We now have had two five star biographies on Williams, the other by Lee Montville entitled "Ted Williams". Both are worth your time. If you want to know practically everything you care to know and more about Teddy Ballgame than Bradlee's book "The Kid" would be the book to read. Some may feel they are being told more than what would interest them because Bradlee goes into great detail about the several wives of Williams in addition to his children and step-children. In addition there is a detailed hassle regarding Ted being "stored" in the Alcor facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, that may be belaboring to some readers.

Ted Williams was a man of many mood swings which may have dated back to his childhood where his mother was a dedicated worker with the Salvation Army and pretty much ignored him as did his father as well. Williams could be profanely abusive to people including his many wives and others who crossed his path. He, no doubt, could be very difficult to live with. On the other hand he could be very gentle with youngsters and would go out of his way to be of assistance to others who were in need. It was the great Rogers Hornsby who gave Williams the advice to "get a good ball to hit." Red Sox clubhouse man Johnny Orlando tagged Williams with the nickname "The Kid.".

Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey was often beloved by his players. He did, however, run a house of prostitution in South Carolina in which he, himself, took advantage of. We have often heard of "The curse of the Bambino" in which the Bosox failed for so many years to win a championship due to their shipping Babe Ruth off to the Yankees in 1920.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ted Williams was a tortured person, as this lengthy biography makes clear. But, oh my, what a hitter he was! The last player to hit .400. With a major league career that began in 1939, in 1957--at an advanced age for a player--he hit .388. If he had any legs left, he may well have hit .400 if he would have been able to get some "leg hits."

The book accomplishes several worthy goals. First, it provides a big picture description and analysis of his baseball career--from the time when he first started playing until his retirement. It shows a growth as a player--from indifferent to playing defense to becoming a pretty decent outfielder. The book depicts his approach to hitting very nicely. It also shows the volatile side of him, when he would lose his temper, publicly get into painful disputes with reporters, sometimes not hustling when he would become angry with someone, and so on. And the ways he would "psyche" himself for a game. For instance, taking swings in the locker room, he would say: "I'm Teddy [expletive deleted] Ballgame of the Major [expletive deleted] Leagues. How can this pitcher get me out with his [expletive deleted] pitching" (I could not retrieve the exact quotation, but this is close]. The book has his batting statistics at the end (page 785), and that is helpful, to get a sense of the trajectory of his career.

Second, it gives a glimpse of Williams as a person. Not always pretty. He was married a number of times and the end result was often unpleasant. He had numerous affairs, had a wicked temper. In short, he tended to treat his wives badly. While his children would say that he was a good father, he was often away. And his personality. . . . He was obviously someone with some emotional/mental problems.
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41 of 53 people found the following review helpful By BookBob on December 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I don't remember many events from my youth, but those that I do are vivid and clear. I remember a time as a Boy Scout taking an excursion in the late 1960's with my troop to Tiger Stadium to see the Washington Senators vs. the Detroit Tigers. We all knew that Ted Williams (Senators' coach) would be there and hoped for a glimpse of the Legend. Luckily we faced the visitor "dug out" way up in the cheap seats. I remember seeing the great man standing like a statue made of marble sternly watching the Senators perform. I thought to myself - " Ted could pick up a bat and knock one out of the park if he wanted to", but he was the manager and chose to see his players do the job. I don't remember the outcome of this game. I just remember Ted Williams standing tall.

I admire Ted Williams to this day, and believe the man was bigger than the game. This timely published book is one of many attempts to define the complicated life of Ted Williams. He didn't like the press, wouldn't tip his hat to the fans (until his later years), and wrote his own account " Ted Williams - My Turn at Bat " as an attempt to straighten things out. Ted Williams always had something to prove, and the tenacity & talent to do so. It's hard to say what he would of thought of this book. I think he would have had issues, but as I read it: I got the sense that the author made every attempt to be impartial and honest about this complex and legendary man.

Ted Williams admits he was very sensitive. He would hear the single boo in a stadium of cheering fans. He did not like the press, and if they ever put Ted back together some day, he properly wouldn't like this book. Ted said "he always felt the weight of the world on his shoulders when he was actively playing".
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