Ted Williams: "You were lucky to have such a dad"...
Any truths other than Ted’s own—especially the ones written by sportswriters and voiced by his critics—seemed to him designed to prove that he was only what he had been when he was a boy: a scared, unwanted, unloved kid from a miserable home, that he could not redo his life to better specifications.
The secret truth was that he needed to be great in order to escape from that terrible home. He had been raised by an alcoholic father and a religiously strident mother who was out on the streets all hours for the Salvation Army. The phrase for her in today’s vernacular would be that she was a woman in deep denial, very deep denial. She seemed to care more about the orphans of Tijuana than she did about her own two sons. Her home was a pigpen. …Ted was always fighting that shame about his background...When they were with the Padres, Ted often went to (teammate Bobby) Doerr’s house for dinner when the team played in Los Angeles. “You don’t know how lucky you are,” Ted told Bobby again and again. “You just don’t know how lucky you are. You’ve got the greatest parents. Your dad is always watching out for you.” There was in Bobby Doerr’s many scrapbooks (lovingly begun during Bobby’s early years by his father) a June 1970 letter from Ted Williams on the occasion of Harold Doerr’s death: “I can’t tell you how badly I felt about your Dad’s passing. The wonderful thing is he lived so long and died so peacefully. You were lucky to have such a Dad.”
- David Halberstam, The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship; Hyperion, 2003, New York, NY; pp. 112-114.