Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - July 6, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba
Baseball mourns Teddy BallgameFormer Red Sox great Ted Williams, the last man to hit .400 in season, dies in Florida
By Mike Branom
CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. — Boston Red Sox treasure Ted Williams, the last man to bat .400 and perhaps baseball’s greatest hitter of all time, died yesterday.
The “Splendid Splinter” was 83.
Williams, who suffered a series of strokes and congestive heart failure in recent years, was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest at 8:49 a.m. at Citrus County Memorial Hospital in Inverness, spokeswoman Rebecca Martin said.
The Hall of Famer always wanted to be known as the greatest hitter ever, and his stats backed up the claim.
Williams had 145 RBIs as a Red Sox rookie in 1939 and closed out his career — fittingly — by hitting a home run at Fenway Park in his final major league at-batin 1960.
Williams was a two-time MVP who twice won the Triple Crown. He hit .344 lifetime with 521 home runs — despite twice interrupting his career to serve as a Marine Corps pilot in the Second World War and the Korean War.
“Ted was like John Wayne,” Hall of Famer Joe Morgan said. “He was a man’s man.”
Williams’ greatest achievement came in 1941 when he batted .406, getting six hits in a doubleheader on the final day of the season.
As word of his death spread, baseball paused to remember one of its true heroes.
Groundskeepers at Fenway Park shaved his No. 9 into the left-field spot where he used play.
The American flag in centre field was lowered to half-mast in Boston and across the major leagues.
At the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., a wreath was placed around his plaque and a flower arrangement was put around his statue.
“With the passing of Ted Williams, America has lost a baseball legend,” said President Bush, a former baseball owner. “Whether serving the country in the armed forces or excelling on the baseball diamond, Ted Williams demonstrated unique talent and love of country.”
Former senator and astronaut John Glenn had Williams as his wingman on combat missions in Korea.
“There was no one more dedicated to this country and more proud to serve his country than Ted Williams,” Glenn said.
In Fredericton, Williams was remembered as an angler and friend to New Brunswick.
Jack Fenety, who befriended Williams in 1955 while fishing, said Williams was so taken with Atlantic salmon that he bought a property on the
Miramichi river in 1959. Williams later became a director of the Miramichi Salmon Association and its first lifetime member.
Williams contended his eyesight was so keen he could pick up individual stitches on a pitched ball and could see the exact moment his bat connected with it.
He also asserted he could smell the burning wood of his bat when he fouled a ball straight back, just missing solid contact.
“I think he was the best hitter that
Ted Williams was known for his tremendous swing and hitting ability and also as a war pilot who served in both the Second World War and the Korean War.
baseball has had,” Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, who played with Williams for IO seasons, said from Junction City, Ore.
“He wanted to be the greatest hitter of all time, and he worked hard at that, but he was also a great teammate. He patted everyone on the back.”
Williams was a perfectionist who worked tirelessly at his craft and had no tolerance for those less dedicated. He was single-minded and stubborn, a player who reduced the game to its simplest elements: batter versus pitcher, one trying to outsmart the other. In those instances, he usually won.
“When Ted was a young man, he often said it was his goal that people would say of him: ‘There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.’ Ted fulfilled that dream,” baseball commissioner Bud Selig said.
Tall and thin, gaunt almost, Williams hardly possessed the traditional profile of a slugger. Yet he was probably the best hitter of his time — and one with a
chip on his shoulder.
Often involved in feuds both public and private during his career, Williams mellowed later in life.
The best example came in his reaction to an emotional ovation from the crowd at the 1999 all-star game at Fenway Park, Williams’ longtime playground.
After a roster of Hall of Famers was introduced, Williams rode a golf cart to the pitcher’s mound, where he threw out the first ball. Suddenly, he was surrounded by a panorama of stars, past and present, who reacted like a bunch of youngsters crowding their idol for an autograph.
For a long time, they just hovered around him, many with tears in their eyes.
Then, San Diego’s Tony Gwynn gently helped a misty-eyed Williams to his feet and steadied him as Williams threw to Carlton Fisk, another Boston star.
The crowd roared.
Alex Zanardi, left, and Alex Tagliani meet In the track at the Molson Indy yesterday. The CART race goes Sunday In Toronto.
BY MEI AIME KENTNER
TORONTO — Alex Zanardi and Alex Tagliani embraced on the track at the Molson Indy yesterday, IO months after Zanardi lost both his legs in a terrifying crash with the Canadian.
It was their first meeting since the accident happened in a CART race in Germany last Sept. 15.
“I understand he feels guilty, but he has no reason to,” Zanardi told a news conference pnor to meeting Tagliani.
Tagliani said he was relieved to see Zanardi again.
“I was happy because he told me that he was really happy,” said Tagliani, a native of Lachenaie, Que. “He had a good time and made a couple of jokes. He has been happy lately, a lot of good things have happened. I was really pleased to see that.”
With the help of manual controls in his family car and artificial legs, Zanardi has re-learned how to live a normal life.
“I will always be addicted to auto racing,” said Zanardi. “For that reason, I will come back once in a while as a fan.”
The fun-loving Italian said if he was an American resident he would be more interested in being involved in the sport as an organizer or owner. But in Europe,
where the more formal Formula One circuit dominates, he is happier on the sidelines.
“It’s different,” said Zanardi. “Last night I jumped into a limo to the party. I was with Jimmy (Vasser) and Tony (Kanaan) and we were joking and teasing each other. That’s very normal over here, but in Formula One that doesn’t happen.”
At Thursday night’s gala, Zanardi received the Greg Moore Award for his contributions to Canadian auto racing, particularly the Molson Indy.
Zanardi was bashful about receiving the award, but honoured because he described the late Moore as a friend whose career was very similar to his own. Each day Zanardi is reminded that, unlike Moore who died in a racing crash, he got a second chance at life.
“I know that the trophy is not him, but it is still very special,” said Zanardi.
September’s life-changing accident occurred as Zanardi was exiting from pit lane after getting fuel and a new set of tires dunng CART’s inaugural race in Lausitz, Germany.
In an effort to gain track position, he hit the throttle hard. The car spun, and while he managed to keep it off the wall, it came to a rest in the middle of the
track in a vulnerable sideways position across the track.
Tagliani, who was coming out of corner lour at speeds in excess of 200 m.p.h., had no opportunity to react and avoid contact.
The nose of his car caught Zanardi’s just in front of the cockpit.
“I think I’m lucky Alex is a very strong guy,” said Tagliani. “Mentally he really wanted to be on his feet and do a normal life before the crash. It makes it a little bit easier for the guy who was involved in the crash with him seeing that’s the kind of guy he is.”
Even with the immediate help of the emergency crew and doctors, Zanardi was given a slim chance to live. No one ever imagined he would be walking, driving, or playing with his son on the beach.
“In life you always want what you don’t have,” said Zanardi. “I remember rn 1998 calling home from Indianapolis and I was thinking what I would give to have a normal life — to be with my wife and to go home at 5 o’clock every day.”
Meanwhile, Brazilian Cnstiano da Matta grabbed the provisional pole for Sunday’s race by covering the 11-tum 1.755-mile course in 58.487 seconds.
Can anyone beat Armstrong?
By JAMEY KEATEN
LUXEMBOURG — He is fresh off several race victories. His teammates are in top shape. His rivals say he has a psychological edge.
On the eve of the Tour de France, the question on everybody’s lips is: Who can threaten a seemingly invincible Lance Armstrong?
“The only person who can beat Lance is Lance himself,” said Levi Leipheimer of the Rabobank team, a former teammate of three-time defending champion Armstrong and a fellow American. “If he Is feeling well, and doesn’t make any mistakes, he’s unbeatable.”
Nearly all signs suggest that Armstrong is ready. He says he’s feeling good, he’s confident about his U.S. Postal Service team, and he’s been on a roll: He won two warm-up events — chi Midi Libre in May and the Dauphine Libere in June.
There are other reasons for optimism. Two previous lour winners, Germany’s Jan Ullrich and Marco Pantan i of Italy, aren’t racing this year. Telekom nder Ullrich, whose racing career overall is in jeopardy after allegations of doping emerged Wednesday, is out with a knee injury. Pantani has been mired in drug problems.
Of the 189 racers, Armstrong is clearly the star. Throngs of reporters fill his news conferences, three bodyguards watch his every step, and he has exclusive access to an elevator on the way to medical checkups, while his teammates walk up the stairs.
“Who can beat him?” queried French sports daily L’Equipe in a headline Friday.
A total of 21 teams are to take part in the event, which begins today with a seven-kilometre individual time trial in Luxembourg. The 21-day course will take riders into Germany, across the windswept plains of northern France, then through the Pyrenees Mountains and along the Mediterrantai o the Alps before the traditional Paris finish. There are two rest days.
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