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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Decade of Research Finally Brought to Fruition
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...
Published 9 months ago by Bill Emblom

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Certainly worth the read
I've read other books about the greatest hitter in baseball. Most focus on a specific tiime period. This is by far the best book regarding Ted Williams personal life. At times, it dragged because of all the details and I felt that the author repeated himslef more than necessary but I always came back to it. I give it 3 stars not to be overly critical but books with...
Published 8 months ago by Mike


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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Decade of Research Finally Brought to Fruition, December 16, 2013
By 
Bill Emblom "Bill Emblom" (Ishpeming, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (Hardcover)
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. However, the real curse lies in the lap of owner Tom Yawkey who wanted nothing to do with having an African-American player on the team. The Sox turned down both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays in a tryout. Can you imagine those two in addition to Williams in the Hub's lineup at the same time during the 1950s? Yawkey and bigoted manager Mike "Pinky" Higgins have only themselves to blame for Boston's lackluster teams during that golden decade of the '50s.

Author Bradlee gives ample coverage of Ted Williams' military career. Ted was a flight instructor in World War II and had more interest in flying than in playing wartime baseball in the army. He was disappointed to say the least in being recalled to fight in the Korean War as a fighter pilot. However, his military career was exemplary and exhibited well-disciplined behavior.

Williams' greatest thrill in baseball was his walk-off home run in the 1941 All-Star game. He batted a disappointing .200 in the 1946 World Series but he had suffered an injury to his elbow by a pitched ball prior to the start of the Fall Classic.

A biography on Ted Williams would not be complete without a detailed coverage of his fishing exploits with his favorite locations being the Florida Keys, the Islamorada in the Upper Keys, and the Miramichi River in New Brunswick, Canada.

Ted toyed with the idea of quitting in the mid-1950s until a fan named Ed Mifflin convinced him to continue playing so he could achieve milestones that were within his reach. The book covers anecdotes of several Red Sox players such as Don Buddin, Sammy White, Ted Lepcio, and Milt Bolling all of whom I remember from my baseball cards of the 1950s and my following of the Detroit Tigers.

This book is a massive effort by author Ben Bradlee, Jr. which took him a decade to bring to fruition. It also includes three separate sections of photographs. If you want to know most everything about Ted Williams' life then this would be the book to read. If you want another five star biography on Ted Williams which will provide you with less detail then I would suggest you read Lee Montville's book entitled Ted Williams. Both are outstanding.
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40 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bigger Than the Game, December 3, 2013
This review is from: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (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". It was difficult for Ted to live up to his & the fans expectations, but he did, and used the criticism to fuel his many accomplishments both inside and outside the game. He said " he was glad his baseball years as a player was over and didn't wish to repeat it". Not sure if Ted wanted to be frozen or preserved in a state of "Bio-Stasis" - so he could be put together in the future. Maybe he was content to rest in peace with his ashes spread over the Florida keys. His son John Henry pushed hard to freeze his remains, and this book will explore the circumstances and family disagreements behind this act.

Ted Williams seemed driven to be the man everyone expected him to be. In the early stages of WW II - Williams applied for a Class 3-A status to reduce his chances for a draft - he did this for family reasons. The Press spun it as an attempt to avoid his patriotic duty. Ted Williams becomes a fighter pilot in both wars (WWII & Korea). Again, he drives hard to prove the press wrong.

This is a long book, but reads very well. It begins with Ted Williams' end, then an overview of his child hood, beginning of his baseball career, his rise to excellence, trouble with the press, his passion for fishing (he was placed in that Hall of Fame as well), his multiple marriages, family trouble, and once again to his ending. In the twilight of Ted's life he had his pet dog "Slugger" - whom he wished to be buried with, but didn't happen. Near the end of this extraordinary life - it was The Kid and his beloved dog.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed bio of the Splendid Splinter, February 13, 2014
By 
Steven A. Peterson (Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (Hardcover)
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. He would sometimes get discouraged easily; he would lash out at people; and so on.

Third, it portrays his distressing state near the end of his life. Health problems came up. His son was manipulative and tried to develop a career and lots of income, and he was not above misusing his father. Perhaps most distressing, he wanted to "freeze" his father after death, rather than allowing Williams to be cremated as he had requested. The story is that Williams finally agreed, but the book certainly makes it appear that his son and a daughter manipulated him into the decision.

A richly told tale of a larger than life figure, with larger than life problems, who was a larger than life baseball player.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulitzer-quality Bio, January 28, 2014
By 
Edward C. Nielsen (Hendersonville, NC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (Hardcover)
Bradlee took 10 years to complete this book, and it shows. After hundreds of interviews, he got the complete story of Ted Williams. This book pulls no punches. You'll get all the good stuff Ted did in his life, much of which he took pains to keep secret. You'll also get all the bad stuff in his life and maybe learn why it went that way. Ted was at the same time a loving, caring person who'd do anything for someone in need, even a complete stranger, yet could be the most profane and abusive person imaginable. One thing that's not open to debate and will be driven home in this book: Ted Williams was one of the best hitters ever to play the game of baseball. This book details the interactions between Ted and his family, friends, managers, teammates, and opponents. If The Kid doesn't get strong consideration for a Pulitzer, something is wrong. Great book!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bi-Polar A #1 Batsman and his Unholy Seed(s), December 25, 2013
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A remarkable, fascinating saga of a bi-polar bat magician whose skills put everyone in a trance. Just reading it MAKES one bi-polar as each page melts your heart--then freezes it. Growing up an Aaron fan, The Kid wasn't on my radar so this filled in the gap. I must say, the first half of the book was mostly about the clearly mentally disturbed (yet charming...) Mr. Williams and the second half portrayed his son as a bad seed despite attempts to leaven the facts. I was struck by the number of genuine friends he had despite his apparent abuse of most of them. Clearly a misogynist, yet he charmed women as well. He cast spells. it would seem. Sadly, as the book ended, one hoped for an early, painful (and warranted?) demise of his son...and got it. My favorite anecdote was when first basemen begged off holding runners on when Mr. Williams was at the plate for fear of getting killed by a line drive. Bravo. Should the two ever walk this earth again, Mr. Williams will spit in his son's face.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Bradlee Jr. hits a grand slam across the Green Monster of Fenway Park in this definitive life of the Kid Ted Williams!, May 10, 2014
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This review is from: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (Hardcover)
If you read one sports biography each year then this is the selection for you! What a massive book about (arguably) baseball's all time greatest hitter. The life of Ted Williams (1918-2002) comes to colorful life in this very long biography. (In my opinion the book could have been more judiciously edited). Ben Bradlee Jr. a longtime Boston based journalist has provided a detailed look at the man called by many nicknames:" Teddy Baseball, the Splendid Splinter and most famously The Kid.
Ted Williams was born in San Diego into a family of low middle class struggle. His mother was Mexican which Williams kept long hidden. Williams reached out to men like Pumpsie Green the first African-American to play for the Red Sox in 1959. The Red Sox under their owner Tom Yawkey were the last major league team to integrate their squad. Ted also called for the induction of players such as Satchel Paige and Monte Irwin and other stars from the Negro Leagues. This stand was most clearly stated when Teddy Baseball was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.
Ted Williams played for the minor league San Diego Padres and the Minneapolis Milles before breaking into the majors with the Boston Rex Sox in 1939. Williams was a great hitter posting a .344 lifetime batting average. Williams was the last man to hilt 400 in
1941, Williams lost the MVP crown to his arch rival Joe DiMaggio who hit in 56 straight games as he led the Yankees to the pennant. Williams played in one World Series in 1946 when the Bosox fell to the St. Louis Cardinals. Ted was famous for his winning home run in the 1949 All Star Game. Teddy Ballgame won six hitting crowns and twice was named AL MVP.
Williams statistics would have been even more astounding if he had not bravely served as a Marine Corp Aviator in both World War II and Korea. In Korea he flew thirty-nine combat missions and became a friend of John Glenn the future astronaut and United States Senator from Ohio.
Ted Williams was a complex and volatile man with a hair trigger temper. Williams gave of his time and money visiting dying children, supporting the Jimmy Fund to aid cancer patients and helping his friends and family when they had financial problems. Ted was loyal and a generally friendly man whose temper could explode. He was profane and hated reporters. Williams may have been bipolar and today would have been treated for mental health issues.
Ted had a stormy private life. He was married three times and all unions ended in divorce. He had a difficult relationships with his three children Bobby Jo by first wife Doris'; John Henry and Claudia by his third wife Dolores. John Henry was a bit of a rogue. He had Ted preserved on ice and his head removed from his body to be preserved by ALCOR a cryonotics company. John Henry forced his aging and ill dad into the lucrative memorabilia market.
Ted Williams comes across as a baseball version of John Wayne or a character in an Ernest Hemingway short story. Williams was a perfectionist in all his major loves including:": hitting a baseball;' fishing with professional level skill'; hunting'; photography and serial womanizing. Ted professed to be an agnostic but late in life professed believe in Christ as Lord. Ted was a brilliant man who mastered the many challenges in his life.
Ben Bradlee is to be commended for his decade of research and his fluid prose which makes the Kid of baseball and his times come alive in countless anecdotes. Ted Williams, warts and all, was a great American icon and a patriot. God bless his troubled soul. A great book highly recommended. It kept me enthralled for the week I took to carve time out of my schedule to read it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE INCREDIBLE TEDDY BALLGAME, February 18, 2014
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While I have read many books on baseball, this one may perhaps be the finest. A fascinating look at the life and times of Theodore Samuel Williams, I could not put it down. For anyone with a passion for baseball, especially those with an interest in the era of the 30's, 40's and 50's, this is THE book to read. Jam packed with great stories about Williams and the Red Sox, it is thoroughly entertaining and a 'must read'.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Certainly worth the read, January 20, 2014
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I've read other books about the greatest hitter in baseball. Most focus on a specific tiime period. This is by far the best book regarding Ted Williams personal life. At times, it dragged because of all the details and I felt that the author repeated himslef more than necessary but I always came back to it. I give it 3 stars not to be overly critical but books with this much detail can be a slow read. I'd recommend it to any baseball fan.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kid Comes To Life, April 3, 2014
By 
Mark R. Brewer (Pitman, New Jersey) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (Hardcover)
As a young man, Ted Williams wanted to be only one thing: the best hitter in all of baseball. Through hard work and perseverance, he achieved that lofty goal. He wasn't much of a base-runner or a fielder, and he sometimes seemed to be more concerned with his own batting statistics than he was with the team's won-loss record. But he was the best hitter. Period. Indeed, Williams had the remarkable ability to do extremely well at whatever he dedicated himself to, be it hitting, fishing, or flying an airplane. Unfortunately, he didn't dedicate himself to those things that mattered most--being a husband and father. This was no doubt due to the fact that his own parents were indifferent to his existence.

The life of the man they called "The Kid" or "Teddy Ballgame" makes for fascinating reading. And author Ben Bradlee, Jr. presents an honest biography of Williams, with all his strengths and flaws. Bradlee is an excellent writer, and he has done a miraculous amount of research. Despite the length of the biography--more than 900 pages--it is an easy and engaging read. Williams is at once lovable and despicable. He could be loud, crude, rude, and profane--even to his own wife (he had three) and children (also three). But he was also highly compassionate, especially toward sick children. He was also generous and unpretentious. And he was a real war hero, though as Bradlee points out, a reluctant one.

In Bradlee's epic biography, the reader comes to know Theodore Samuel Williams extremely well--so well, in fact, that I feel as though I've spent some time in the company of The Kid. This is such a complete, all-encompassing biography that there seems to be no reason for another one. This is THE biography of Williams for all time. Period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant examination of a Hall of Fame career and an "exceptional, tumultuous, and epic American life - an immortal life.", September 12, 2014
This review is from: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (Hardcover)
I am among the 200 reviewers (thus far) who have rated this book highly but there are others (and there always are) who complain about something: its length, abundance of historical material, too much coverage of this/not enough of that, etc. I have read a number of biographies in recent years, including those of John Cheever (Bailey), Steve Jobs (Isaacson), Barbara Stanwyck (Wilson), Johnny Carson (Bushkin), John Wayne (Eyman), Michael Jordan (Lazenby), Woodrow Wilson (Berg), and John Updike (Begley) as well as Leigh Montville's biography of Ted Williams (2005). In my opinion, none is a greater achievement than what Ben Bradlee, Jr. offers in The Kid, his examination of the "immortal life" of Ted Williams (1918-2002).

As Charles McGrath points out in his review of the book for The New York Times, "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 William'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."

Bradlee devotes seven pages of Acknowledgments of hundreds of sources (including Montville) to which he is "deeply indebted." He also includes 155 pages of Notes and in Appendix II (Pages 787-800) he lists everyone he interviewed. This is a research-driven book, to be sure, and probably the definitive account of the life of one of the most colorful - and controversial - public figures during the second half of the last century. Bradlee allows the sources to speak for themselves and provides a more balanced view than does Richard Ben Cramer, for example, in his biography of Joe DiMaggio and two of Williams.

There is much in Williams and his life to admire, notably his skills as a hitter of baseballs and his two periods of service as a Marine pilot (during WW 2 and then Korea) as well as his active support of the Jimmy Fund. He was very uncomfortable when praised for that support. Here is a brief portion of the information provided by the Fund's website: "Ted Williams was a hero in the ballpark, on the battlefield, and in the hearts of millions of children suffering from cancer. Famous for his extraordinary batting record during his decades-long career with the Red Sox, Ted also displayed heroism as a fighter pilot in two wars, and his tireless efforts on behalf of the Jimmy Fund. Ted went everywhere to support the cause: American Legion banquets, temples and churches, Little League games, drive-in theaters, department stores for autograph sessions. Most memorably, he made countless visits to the bedsides of sick children at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. As a kid, Ted dreamed of being a sports hero, but as an adult, he dreamed of beating cancer. His efforts over the years contributed to remarkable progress in the treatment of childhood cancers."

These are among the dozens of other dimensions of his life and career that are of greatest interest to me:

o His childhood in San Diego and early promise as a baseball player
o His minor league years (1936-1938) and the friendships he developed (e.g. with Dom DiMaggio and Bobby Doerr)
o Being identified as "The Kid" by Red Sox equipment manager, Johnny Orlando
o The first season in MLB, after which Babe Ruth designated him "Rookie of the Year"
o The 1941 season: Williams batted .406, hit 37 home runs, and had 120 RBIs, finishing second to Joe DiMaggio for MVP
o First active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps as a fighter pilot, World War 2 (1943-1945)

Note: According to Johnny Pesky, a Red Sox teammate who was also involved with Williams in the aviation training program, "He mastered intricate problems in fifteen minutes which took the average cadet an hour, and half of the other cadets there were college grads." Pesky again described Williams' acumen in the advance training, for which Pesky personally did not qualify: "I heard Ted literally tore the sleeve target to shreds with his angle dives. He'd shoot from wingovers, zooms, and barrel rolls, and after a few passes the sleeve was ribbons. At any rate, I know he broke the all-time record for hits."

o Second active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, Korea (1952-1953)

Note: During the second tour of duty, Williams served in the same Marine Corps unit with John Glenn who described him as one of the best pilots he knew.

o Why he disliked the sports media so intensely, especially in Boston
o When and why he retired
o The significance of his relationship with Sears Roebuck
o His brief career as a manager of the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers franchise from 1969 to 1972
o His inadequacies as a husband and as a father
o The ambiguities of John Henry Williams
o Questions that remain unanswered concerning what happened after Ted Williams' death on July 5, 2002 (aged 83)
o Key lifetime statistics: BA .344; HRs 521; 2,654 hits; and 1,839 RBIs

Bradlee thoroughly explores these and countless other subjects and related issues, perhaps with more details and to a greater extent than many readers prefer. He celebrates Williams' several significant strengths and virtues but refuses to ignore or even neglect his prominent inadequacies in most of his personal relationships. I appreciate the fact that Bradlee does not presume to explain what drove him other than a need to become the greatest baseball hitter who ever lived (I agree with Bradlee and countless others that he was) and by his determination to have total control of his personal life, especially the news media.

As Bradlee explains in his Author's Note, "Researching and writing this book took more than a decade. After six-hundred-odd reviews, uncounted hours of research in archives and among the private papers given to me and by the Williams family, after looking closely at that signed baseball more than a few times [one Bradlee received in his youth] and thinking hard about the man I'd briefly met as a boy and the man I was meeting now, I felt ready to let go of this Ted Williams tale, the story of an exceptional, tumultuous, and epic American life - an immortal life."

This is by far the best biography of Williams, helping his readers to gain a better understanding and a greater appreciation of one of the most complicated human beings any of us will ever know. Bravo!
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The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams by Ben Bradlee Jr. (Hardcover - December 3, 2013)
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