Ted Williams: A Baseball Life

Not Rated Yet Author: Michael Seidel Email
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A lot has been written about the “Splendid Splinter,” but very little of it approaches the splendor of Michael Seidel’s carefully researched and beautifully crafted biography.

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ISBN 978-1-938545-43-6
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Michael Seidel surpasses the vast majority of the innumerable books on Ted Williams through a combination of thorough and precise research and exceptionally eloquent prose. Seidel is a former Professor of English at Columbia University, and his writing style reflects his erudition. It’s not at all stilted or formal; to the contrary, the text flows and is full of wit. But the wisdom of the author is clear in how he decides what stories and facts to include about the complex superstar, and what information to provide to set the scene.

We are taken from the brash yet insecure teenage Williams to the nearly unthinkable excellence of his early years (1941’s .406 came in Ted’s third year in the bigs.) Next comes the fascinating story of The Splinter’s initial resistance to joining the military during World War II to the loss of three prime years in the service, during which, unlike many of the popular legends, Williams led a quiet, uneventful existence.

Between wars, Williams resumed his hitting excellence, all the while battling with a hostile press corps and a legion of left-field louts. Author Seidel presents numerous episodes in the never-ending battle between Williams and the press. The scholarship is top-shelf; the perspective, totally objective. In retrospect, it is incredible to see the extent of the mutual hostility.

As the years go by, injuries become more frequent, though Williams’ batting excellence is limited only when he is unable to play. Seidel takes us through these fascinating seasons - the hot streaks, the prodigious home runs, how Williams dealt with the shift and being pitched around.  His less-than-stellar and at times indifferent defense is also described, in keeping with the "full picture" style of the book.

Another great feature is a statistical appendix, which breaks down Teddy Ballgame's batting by opponent, by month, and various other unusual methodologies, which only serve to make us shake our head in awe at his offensive prowess.

1. Country of the Sun
2. Minor Key and Major Talent
3. Baby Ruth
4. “Williamsburg”
5. The Last .400
6. Draft Bait
7. Interlude
8. The Real Thing
9. Triple Crown Redux
10. Daddy-O
11. Close but No Cigar
12. Elbowed Out
13. Boston Fade
14. To Hell and Back
15. Cold Shoulder
16. Hiatus
17. Rivalries
18. Comeback Kid
19. Life Begins at Forty
20. Pain in the Neck
21. Last but Not Least
22. APPENDIX: Playing by the Numbers

BOOK SYNOPSIS

Michael Seidel manages to surpass the majority of the innumerable books on Ted Williams through a combination of thorough and precise research, and exceptionally eloquent prose. Seidel is a former Professor of English at Columbia University, and his writing style reflects his erudition. It’s not at all stilted or formal – to the contrary, the text flows and is full of wit. But the wisdom of the author is clear in how he decides what stories and facts to include about the complex superstar, and what information to provide to set the scene. We are taken from the brash yet insecure teenage Williams to the nearly unthinkable excellence of his early years (1941’s .406 came in Ted’s third year in the bigs.) Next comes the fascinating story of The Splinter’s initial resistance to joining the military during World War II to the loss of three prime years in the service, during which, unlike many of the popular legends, Williams led a quiet, uneventful existence. Between wars, Williams resumed his hitting excellence, all the while battling with a hostile press corps and a legion of left-field louts. Author Seidel presents numerous episodes in the never-ending battle between Williams and the press. The scholarship is top-shelf; the perspective, totally objective. In retrospect, it is incredible to see the extent of the mutual hostility. As the years go by, injuries become more frequent, though Williams’ batting excellence is limited only when he is unable to play. The book provides great detail about The Splinter’s production – the incredible hot streaks, the prodigious home runs, how Williams dealt with the shift and being pitched around. The narrative is an intimate look at a career

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