Skip to main content

The Kid took hitting advice from a kid and it paid off. Ted Williams goes down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, hitters of all time. Williams was the last Major League Baseball player to hit over .400 and compiled a very impressive .344 batting average over a 19-year career. Most of the former Boston Red Sox star’s success can be attributed to his talent and dedication to hitting, but a little bit has to go to a 14-year-old kid who wrote him a letter offering him a suggestion.

Ted Williams’ special season

In 1941, Ted Williams set a hitting mark that hasn’t been touched to this day. Williams entered the final day of the season with a .400 average and the Boston Red Sox were in Philadelphia to play the Athletics in a season-ending doubleheader.

Williams could have chosen to sit out the two games to protect his batting average, but he insisted on playing. Williams went 4-for-5 in the opener, raising his average to .404 and still insisted on taking part in the nightcap. In that second game, Williams went 2-for-3 and finished the season with his .406 batting average. He became the first player since Bill Terry to hit .400. Terry hit .401 in 1930.

Williams also led the league in walks (147), home runs (37), and runs scored (135). He also led the league in slugging percentage (.755) and finished with a league-leading 25 intentional walks. Somehow, he finished second in the MVP voting to Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees.

The greatest hitter of all-time

There have been some great hitters in the history of Major League Baseball, but Ted Williams has to go down as the best. Williams followed his historical .406 season by hitting .356 and leading the league in homers with 36. After that 1942 season, Williams didn’t play for three straight seasons to fulfill his military duties. When he returned in 1946, he didn’t skip a beat. Williams hit .342, led the league in runs scored, and was named MVP.

Carl Yastrzemski, a Hall-of-Fame Boston Red Sox outfielder, said Williams was a student of the game. “They can talk about Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial and all the rest, but I’m sure not one of them could hold cards and spades to Williams in his sheer knowledge of hitting,” Yastrzemski said. “He studied hitting the way a broker studies the stock market and could spot at a glance mistakes that others couldn’t see in a week.”

Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Curt Gowdy also agreed with the fact Williams studied the art of hitting as much as anyone. “I don’t care what it was, when he went after it he excelled at it,” Gowdy said. “Why? Because he practiced, studied it, worked at it, and I never saw a guy work as hard at his craft as he did. … He was one of a kind.”

Williams’ advice from a 14-year-old kid

In 1948, Ted Williams received a letter in the mail from a 14-year-old boy named David Pressman. In the letter, Pressman offered some advice to the Boston Red Sox star. Pressman’s advice, however, wasn’t about holding your elbow up or keeping your bat foot still, but it was about the scientific weight of the bat.

Pressman told Williams that in the time between bats are unpacked before a game to when the game is finished, they accumulate between 2-3 ounces of moisture. Pressman insisted the added weight was significant in terms of bat speed. Pressman suggested to dry the bats in an oven to release the moisture to bring the bat back to its original weight.

Williams was impressed with Pressman’s theory and the two met several times to discuss hitting. From that point on, Williams took Pressman’s advice and nearly hit .400 again, finishing at .388 in 1957. Williams did hit .407 in 1953 but only had 110 plate appearances. Pressman later went on to graduate from Harvard and become a cardiologist.