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Matched up against the greatest athletes in Boston sports history, former Red Sox slugger Ted Williams stood tall above them all, becoming the first athlete to be enshrined in the Sports of Boston Hall of Fame. Williams was putting up video-game statistics before there were even any video games. He’s a real-life Hall of Famer, and is often considered the “Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.” How can we not enshrine someone considered the greatest ever?
In his career, Williams hit .344 with a major-league record .482 on-base percentage. He’s also second all-time (behind Babe Ruth), with a career .634 slugging percentage. His 521 home runs are the most in Red Sox history, but unfortunately he could have had at least 200 more. Williams missed years in his prime serving his country in World War II and the Korean War.
At just 22 years old, Williams hit a remarkable .406 in 1941 (see table below), and is the last man to ever hit over .400 in a single season.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Most of the Sports of Boston staff voted for Williams on the final ballot. Why did they choose him over Larry Bird and Bobby Orr?
“Ted Williams because he’s the most prolific player to wear a Red Sox uniform. I’d say he’s also the most famous and timeless of the Boston sports greats. He’s also the last player to potentially ever bat .400 in a single season. What else needs to be said?” – Chris
“My vote goes to Ted Williams. While I never got to see him play, there’s no disputing that he’s the most iconic player of this city’s most iconic team. Not to mention he’s one of the games greatest hitters and would have had even better numbers had he not lost a few seasons while fighting in WWII. On that note, the guy is also a war hero, so I think it makes the choice pretty clear cut.” – Fudge
“I think that the SoB Hall of Fame needs to have Ted Williams. He was Teddy Ballgame. There is no doubt that he was the best baseball player to ever play for the Boston Red Sox, and with SoB, everyone knows that Boston fans love the Red Sox. People live and die with the Red Sox and what better person to represent the Boston sports world than Ted Williams. It was remarkable when he rode onto the field during the 1999 All-Star game and it was a tragedy when he died just three years later. One of the best hitters of all time and probably the best hitter in Red Sox history, he gets my vote for the first SoB Hall of Fame.” – Greg
“In a city and region who’s true passion will always be baseball, Ted Williams embodied everything good about the game. A great work ethic, friendly to the fans and oh yeah, he can HIT. The last player to hit .400 in a season, the long homer on his last Fenway at bat, and the 1999 All-Star game appearance are the memories he leaves behind. Besides Bill Russell, he’s the best athlete the Boston area has ever seen.” – Jeff
“He played for an underdog Red Sox team nearly his whole career, was the last to hit .406, and was able to suspend his playing career to fight in the war, returning at the same high level. He hit for power and average. The fact that I’m voting for him without ever seeing him play “live” speaks volumes for his contribution to Boston sports.” – Mike P.
Here’s what Orr voters had to say:
“There is no photo as iconic in Boston sports history as Bobby Orr’s “the Goal”, which clinched the 1970 Stanley Cup, Orr’s first of two Cup victories for the Boston Bruins. In addition to hockey’s greatest trophy, Orr also collected the Norris, Art Ross, Hart, and Conn Smythe Trophies in 1970, becoming the first player ever to collect all five trophies in one season. The shy Canadian also had the mandatory three-year waiting period for the Hockey Hall of Fame waived because of his contributions to the game, which included completely revolutionizing the roll of defensemen. Now an Office of the Order of Canada, Orr was the first defenseman to score 40 goals in a single season. New Englanders polled by the Boston Globe voted Orr the greatest athlete in Boston history beating out prolific stars including SoB Hall of Fame nominees Larry Bird and Ted Williams.” – Erikk
“While his career was somewhat short, Bobby Orr didn’t take long to revolutionize the defenseman position in the NHL and beyond. His league records are too numerous to mention. His playoff heroics are too legendary to do justice in such a short blurb. But what Bobby Orr did for the game of hockey, especially here in Boston and the entire New England area, was like none other. He is the reason why so many locals were inspired to play hockey as kids, and still play to this day. Orr’s Bruins were the toast of the town. Like “Red Sox Nation” is today, “Bruins Nation” was widespread in the early 70’s, thanks to players like the great, “number 4, Bobby Orr.” – Brian
“I vote for Bobby Orr. He was the best all-around player in his sport of all time, he won championships, and he is an all-time legend who will always be synonymous with the Bruins.” – Dan Davis
Also receiving votes: Larry Bird (1), Drew Bledsoe (0)