The Williams Way
For Ted Williams, the hard way was the only way worth doing something
BY: Jonathan Rowe
Ted Williams's body lies in a place called the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, which freezes corpses for potential future use. His children are fighting over what comes next. His daughter says he wanted to be cremated, and said so in his will. His son, who has been known to make a dollar off his father's reputation, apparently wants to keep the DNA.
The fate of Ted's remains is oddly emblematic. When a nation seeks to turn everything into a commodity, will it not eventually regard the lifeless husks of athletes that way too? If pro baseball wants uniforms to serve as billboards, won't someone think that maybe the bodies that wore those uniforms might yield a few bucks? There's something here to ponder about the genetic engineering debate as well. They always tout the medical miracles. Yes, and they said television would enlighten the masses.
Put the genetic ball in play and it doesn't take a genius to see what's coming. Besides, the whole enterprise seems to miss the point. Pardon me for sounding old fashioned here, but new fashioned isn't sounding so hot these days. To paraphrase Dr. King, it's not the content of our genes that counts, but of our characters.
By the time I came along, Ted Williams was no longer the Splendid Splinter, and certainly not the Kid. The face had filled out, the body had a bit of slack. In pictures, he had a hint of that dark-grained 1940s quality that made players from that era seem old beyond their years. Ted wore his cap flat in front like the old timers did, an afterthought rather than a statement.
This was the mid-1950s. Willie Mays was wearing his cap with a high cocky peak, the brim curved low like a frame. Willie had the style. You could tell something new was coming just by his cap.
Yet Ted was part of the new thing too. ("Williams" doesn't work. He wasTed
Williams to us kids, always.) He had a defiant quality, a touch of Brando and Dean. Ted refused to wear a necktie for example, even to those big shot awards dinners at which he was the honored guest, which made him the patron saint of my Sunday morning protests. "Ted Williams doesn't wear a neck tie, so why do I have to?"
I said that every single Sunday, to no avail. But then the Israelites didn't always follow God either.