Monday, December 17, 2012



 Postage Stamp Honors Ted Williams                                                    
“Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel, not just to be as good as someone else but to be better than someone else. This is the nature of man and the name of the game.”
                                  Ted Williams

By Doc Lawrence

Islamorada FL --- Ted Williams, one of baseball’s greatest hitters was also known for catching big fish in the Florida Keys. Several of his old fishing buddies recounted their stories of Mr. Williams here at Robbie’s Marina near the magnificent Overseas Highway in the stunningly beautiful tropical island community of Islamorada.

Legendary pro fisherman Stu Apte recounted how in 1948 he met Williams, sharing his secret fishing spots for three months before he knew Williams was a famous baseball player. Williams signed his $100,000 annual endorsement contract for fishing gear with Sears at Apte’s home in the Keys because Williams didn’t want to miss out of three days on fishing with a trip to Chicago. He also attended two Thanksgiving dinners at Williams’ Islamorada home.

On this day, South Florida postal officials presented enlargements of the Ted Williams first class postage stamp to Stu Apte, Skip Bradeen, Hank Brown, Gary Ellis, and Tony Hammon who shared recollections of fishing with Williams.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service issued the Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps, recognizing the accomplishments of Williams and three other baseball greats:  Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, and Willie Stargell. Each of these Hall of Famers was a perennial All-Star selection and each left an indelible impression on the game. But at Robbie’s Marina, the spotlight was on Ted Williams.

Regarded as one of the all-time greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history, Williams (1918–2002) a career Boston Red Sox outfielder was the last Major League player to bat over .400 for a single season, in 1941. Over a 19-year career, he hit .344 including 521 home runs.

Atlanta resident Kris Krebs as a young shortstop signed with the Red Sox out of Florida State University and received batting instruction from Williams. “He could read the numbers on a jet flying across the baseball field,” Krebs remembers, “and no player had better hand and eye coordination.”

During World War II, while in the prime of his career, Wil­liams enlisted in the Navy and began a flight-training pro­gram after the 1942 season. He earned his wings as a second lieutenant in the Marines and became a flight instructor. He missed three full seasons of baseball during the war. He also missed most of two seasons in 1952 and 1953 while flying combat missions during the Korean War.                                                                             

Despite the interruptions to his career, Williams man­aged to win six American League batting titles and four home-run titles, even though Boston’s Fenway Park was difficult for left-handed power hitters like Williams. He also was voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player twice. In 1947, his second season after returning from World War II, he won his second Triple Crown. In 1957, at age 39, he hit .388 and became the oldest player in the his­tory of the majors to win a batting championship; he then led the league in batting again the next year at age 40. He even batted a more than respectable .316 his final season, in 1960, at age 42. 

Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. In 1969, he became manager of the Washington Sen­ators and was named American League Manager of the Year. After four years, he retired from managing and moved to Florida to pursue a lifelong passion for fishing. 

Williams shared the unofficial title of America’s most popular sport fisherman with Ernest Hemingway, a long time resident of Key West.

In 2002, Ted Williams died in Florida at age 83.

A Holiday feast: singing, dancing, laughter and food from local farms at the Balzam Mountain Inn.

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