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Baseball's version of "The Lion In Winter",
This review is from: What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?: A Remembrance (Hardcover)
Ted Williams lived the kind of irrepressible life that Hollywood tried to invent for its toughest actors; old-skool masculinity personified, he was the finest baseball player of a generation (if not all time), a fisherman worthy of Hemingway's prose, and a lifelong Marine who served his country in not one but TWO deadly wars, the second of which nearly cost him his own life.
He was the eternal paradox, the New England sports hero with the "When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guns" bumper sticker on his pick-up truck, the all-time All-Star outfielder who practiced his swing while playing defense, the surly bane to those in the sports press charged with selling his image to the Boston public, and the eternal cynic who could never fully give himself to the public's adoration because he would always hear the 2 or 3 boos among the thousands of cheers his very presence on the field generated.
This book does a fine job of encapsulating the highlights of Williams' career, covered sparingly among a (then) current interview of the man as living legend approaching his 70's. But the real joy and success of the book is the author's capturing the essence of the magnitude of Williams to the point that you can't possibly help but feel that you are listening to the man thunder away in your own living room, rather than from a far-off house in the Florida Keys (or from the more appropriate peak of Mount Olympus). Most enjoyable to me is the author's penchant FOR PRINTING WILLIAMS' QUOTES IN ALL CAPS (wherein I can't help but read them aloud -and at suitable volume- to my fiancee', much to her dismay).
We have a suitable account of Williams' life after his time as an active player and manager, but before his health began to rapidly deteriorate. It is a full portrait, balancing the more infamous qualities of the man with those that Williams fiercely guarded during his lifetime; that he was, beneath the callous exterior, as warm and giving a soul that baseball would be far more fortunate than it deserves to have as an ambassador today.
It's a joy to read, seemingly almost an afterthought in its brevity, but when considered that it was only ever supposed to be an article for Esquire magazine, it surely ranks among the finest sports writing of all time.