I caught a fascinating story on the NBC Nightly News last Thursday night regarding Ted Williams and his personal memorabilia. Over 800 items were up for auction this past weekend. I couldn't believe that Ted's family would be able to part with some of these items. To collectors, they are beyond imagination. A baseball, autographed for Ted by Babe Ruth. The inscription reads, "To my pal Ted Williams, From Babe Ruth." Seriously!?! Also included in the auction are Williams 1949 American League MVP Award and a silver bat for winning the AL batting championship in 1957.
But Ted Williams was not just a baseball player, he was a soldier (fighting in both WWII and Korea), an avid fisherman and hunter (he's in the fishing hall of fame) and a devoted father. All the items in the collection reflect this. Included are his uniform and photographs from his time in the Marine Corps, letters from presidents, his golf clubs, household items and even a collection of wooden ducks. So what's the back story on this?
Ted Williams had told his children that he wanted to auction off items that he had saved from his playing days with the Red Sox, as well as many other personal items, donating the proceeds to charity. He had always been amazed at the amount of money that people would pay for such items and he knew that the money could help those in great need. Claudia Williams, Ted's daughter, is honoring that wish. The Jimmy Fund, a charity affiliated with Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for which the slugger helped raise money during his lifetime, will be a beneficiary.
Ted Williams passed away in 2002. His son in 2004. That left everything up to Claudia. Claudia was born 11 years after her father retired from baseball. She never realized the impact he had on others until she attended an Old Timer's game as a child and she saw the fans reaction to him. Remembering that, she put a great deal of her heart into the auction. She felt it was extremely important that all of her fathers fans would have the opportunity to see these treasures. And this is the coolest part! All of the items to be auctioned were put on display at Fenway Park so that Ted Williams' fans, Red Sox fans and baseball fans could step back in time and peer into the personal life of one of the games biggest legends. Fans travelled hundreds of miles to see all the different sides of their baseball hero. There was a great deal of thought put into the timing of this and it's no coincidence that this peek into Williams' world is in the year that marks the 10th anniversary of his death and 100th anniversary of Fenway Park opening it's gates.
Here is a link to watch the story from NBC News.
Here is an interview with Claudia Williams.
Here is a short interview with the auction house president.