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Summary

He was one of the greatest figures of his generation, and arguably the greatest baseball hitter of all time. But what made Ted Williams a legend, and a lightning rod for controversy in life and in death? New York Times best-selling author Leigh Montville delivers an intimate, riveting account of this extraordinary life.

Still a gangly teenager when he stepped into a Boston Red Sox uniform in 1939, Williams' boisterous personality and penchant for towering home runs earned him adoring admirers (the fans) and venomous critics (the sportswriters). In 1941, the entire country followed Williams' stunning .406 season, a record that has not been touched in over six decades. At the pinnacle of his prime, Williams left Boston to train and serve as a fighter pilot in World War II, missing three full years of baseball. He was back in 1946, dominating the sport alongside teammates Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr.

Ted Willams' personal life was equally colorful. His attraction to women (and their attraction to him) was a constant. He was married and divorced three times, and he fathered two daughters and a son. He was one of corporate America's first modern spokesmen, and he remained, nearly into his eighties, a fiercely devoted fisherman. With his son, John Henry Williams, he devoted his final years to the sports memorabilia business, even as illness overtook him. In death, controversy and public outcry followed Williams, the result of disagreements among his children over the decision to have his body preserved in a cryonics facility; a fate, many argue, Williams never wanted.

With unmatched verve and passion, and drawing upon hundreds of interviews, acclaimed best-selling author Leigh Montville brings to life Ted Williams's superb triumphs, lonely tragedies, and intensely colorful personality, in a biography that is fitting of an American hero and legend.

©2004 Leigh Montville; (P)2004 Books on Tape

Critic reviews

"Thanks to the author's ability to track down new sources of information, Montville presents a more nuanced portrayal of the baseball star than many previous biographies....An extraordinary glimpse into Williams's complex psyche." (Publishers Weekly)
"Montville...offers a warts-and-all portrait of the Red Sox star but also shows Williams' wit, empathy, intelligence, uncommon loyalty to those he called friends, and unswerving commitment to excellence." (Booklist)
"The strength of Montville's book derives from how Williams emerges from all of this not as victimized but as accountable. It is unlikely that any reader could view Ted Williams just as a ballplayer ever again." (The New York Times Book Review)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • 19-02-05

Very revealing

This book was well worth the time I invested. Having read about him in the fouth grade (about 35 year ago) I knew that he was great, arrogant, and very insecure. But this book taught me many things.

For instance, I never knew that he had a brother or that he was half-Mexican. (He was the first real Latino Superstar of professional sports.) I also never plumbed the depth to which his son John Henry would go to turn a buck.

If you can abide the extremely colorful languages (lots of ?F? bombs, and worse!), you will enjoy the book immensely.

As reprehensible a character as he was, he was just a insecure man with near god-like talent in several areas. Two things you?ll remember from this book are: ?Get a good ball to hit.? And, ?There goes that greatest hitter that ever played the game?.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • 05-07-04

excellent book on Ted and his amazing life

Williams was such a mysterious person, it's great to hear such a well researched and interesting book. Williams was really the first to: have a bench coach as a manager and first to really market himself and his name after his career was over. Not to mention he was the last to hit 400 in a season. What a hitter and what a strange bird. The Narrator's mispronunciation of Filene's is painful. Shouldn't a story like this be read by someone familiar with the Boston area?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Champ
  • 02-06-04

An enjoyable listen for baseball buffs

Ted was larger than life and this book captures him. If you like baseball and enjoyed Summer of '49, George Will's baseball stories and the recent bio of Joe DiMaggio then try this one. The reader could have used a coach on Bostonese (e.g., frappe is a milk shake and rhymes with trap and is not prononced frap-pay) and baseball (Bobby Doerr's last name is mispronounced for half of the book, as are other baseball fgures, the plural of RBI should be pronounced RBI's, not RBI) but this is nit-picking in light of the content. The tidbits are intriguing, such as the night DiMaggio, Musial and Williams (just the three of them) spent an evening reminiscing in Williams' Florida home in the early '90's, Ted returning to Fenway after Korea, taking a few practice swings and deciding that home plate was "off"----- a surveying team later discovered it was one inch out of place...... Then there are details about his childhood that illuminate his attitude toward matters of faith and may explain how in the world he could end up with 2 children who who would have him decapitated and immersed upside down in a freezer vault.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tim
  • 25-04-05

Teddy ballgame gets his due.

Very comprehensive and fair. Williams comes accross as a lovebale yet flawed hero.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hebern
  • 06-08-18

Not the typical sports biography

Very interesting and a little different for a sports biography. It was 22 hours and his baseball career ended before the first 12 hours were done. He was one of baseball’s greatest hitters, flew planes in WW2 and Korea, was one of the best fishermen in the world and upon death made headlines when his two youngest children had his head and body cryogenically frozen (in two different locations). His son either used him as a cash cow signing autographs for a fee in his 80s or he provided for his kids by doing so depending on which version you believe. He was a complex man, who didn't adhere to social norms because he could get away with not doing so due to his huge talent. But, he was very generous to the people and causes that touched him.

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  • Leslee
  • 06-09-17

What an American hero!

Loved this book! I'm not a baseball fan, but truly loved this book about a true American hero!

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  • Nathan
  • 06-04-17

Amazing read!!!

This was an amazing telling of an amazing life filled with highs and lows and stardom. Ted Williams has always been a "hero" of sorts in my eyes, but is more so now after listening to his full story so eloquently presented.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-09-16

The Legend

Though I am to young to ever seen Ted play, I fully admire him. This book gives a clear picture of who he was and what things he accomplished, good and bad. I loved the detail of the .406 season. I also feel terrible about how was treated late in life and how it all ended. Such a sad ending for such a great ballplayer and steward of outdoor sports.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Earle D. Holt
  • 28-07-16

Very Insightful!

Would you listen to Ted Williams again? Why?

Yes. There are so many side stories that I want to make sure I didn't miss anything

What did you like best about this story?

The depth. Amazing!

Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

I think I like Louise. Quite the trooper. Not unlike many fans of Ted. Overlooked his many faults and remained enamored by him. Accepted him for who he was.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but time did not allow that

Any additional comments?

Scott Brick did a wonderful job!

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  • Karen
  • 29-12-11

Ted Williams ... at last!

Mr. Montville gives us the Ted Williams we baseball (particularly Red Sox nation) fans have been yearning for - unvarnished, revealing, insightful writing and the usual excellent narration by the peerless Scott Brick make this audiobook a "must-have" for your library. Even if baseball isn't a prime interest, this book offers a fascinating look at one of America's most perplexing personalities. I don't use the word "fascinating" lightly, this title will grip you and draw you in. If you are on the fence about purchasing this, it's ok to get off of it and click the button, you won't regret it!