Born on this day in San Diego, California, Boston Red Sox slugger Theodore Samuel Williams (1918-2002) grew up wanting "to walk down the street and have people say, 'There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.'" Many believe he got his wish.
"God gets you to the plate," he said. "But once you’re there, you’re on your own."
Remarkable Williams, known as "the Splendid Splinter" and "the Kid," was a Marine Corps jet fighter pilot who missed three full seasons during World War II (1943-1945). Flying alongside astronaut John Glenn, Williams returned to service as a combat pilot in Korea.
"Set your goal. Stay focused. And you'll succeed," he said.
The slugger made his professional baseball debut in 1936 and closed out his career in 1960 with a home run in his final at bat. He was the last player to break .400, batting .406 in 1941.
Working his art with passionate dedication, "Thumping Theodore" also won two Triple Crowns and six American League batting championships. The great "Number 9" gathered 521 home runs and had a lifetime average of .344.
Throughout his life, Williams was also an unheralded fund-raiser for the Jimmy Fund Clinic, which was founded in 1948 at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the world's leading cancer research and treatment centers for both children and adults.
"Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer," Williams said.
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