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Ted Williams: boomerang slugger

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Even when you feel like you don’t have much left to give, you can dig down and give your last ounce.

That’s what baseball slugger Ted Williams did. In his final years playing for the Boston Red Sox, pride of craftsmanship took over. Otherwise brittle and moody,Williams kept at it. “He was always coming back,” the famous writer John Updike said in a 1960 tribute, “back from Korea, back from a broken collarbone, a shattered elbow, a bruised heel, back from drastic bouts of flu and ptomaine poisoning. Hardly a season went by without some enfeebling mishap, yet he always came back and always looked like himself.”

Williams never lost his timing, Updike wrote, despite a highly public divorce, fights with the press and a defensive, triple-teaming maneuver his opponents crafted especially for him called the “Williams Shift.” Plus, he was gracious to umpires.

The reward: a “golden twilight.” Somewhere around 1956 or ’57, Williams became “perhaps the best old hitter of the century.”

—Adapted from “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” John Updike, The New Yorker, http://boston.com.

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