Many people know Ted Williams, the baseball legend and one of the greatest hitters of all time. Not as many people know Ted Williams, the military hero. Yet, during World War II, he proved that baseball wasn’t his only strong suit. That’s why, on January 9, 1952, the Marines recalled him to active duty for the Korean War.
When the draft was instituted during World War II, Williams was initially deferred because his mother was dependent on him. But after building up a trust fund for her, he enlisted in the Navy. Although he could have received a safe, easy assignment playing baseball for the Navy, he instead volunteered for the hazardous job of Naval Aviator. He was made a pilot and given a commission in the Marines. He was waiting on an assignment as a replacement pilot when the war ended.
During his training, he was discovered to have 20/10 vision, no doubt a part of why he was so good with a bat. He also aced his training courses and set records, so on January 9, 1952, the Marines recalled him to active duty in the Korean War. He flew 37 combat missions in Korea and once had to crash land his badly damaged plane. He received several awards and medals.
When he returned to baseball, some wondered if, as a 35-year-old who hadn’t played in a while, he’d be able to revive his career. That year, he hit 13 home runs for an incredible .407 record. He was truly incredible.
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No doubt that Ted Williams was the greatest hitter in baseball history. He was also a great person because when I met him at an airport in New York and asked him for an autograph he was happy to do it. Something else. Back when he joined the Red Sox contracts were negotiated yearly. One year when he went in to discuss his contract ($125,000) he told Mr. Yawkey the owner that he did not deserve a raise as was customary because he only hit 320 that year which was about 25 points below his previous year. He said ” Mr. Yawkey I don’t deserve a raise because you did not get your money’s worth this past season. Remember Ted Williams the great person.