Editor’s note: At the time, accounts pegged Williams’ home run at 450 feet. The Red Sox later measured the distance to the red seat and determined it was 502 feet.
A singular honor fell to Joseph A. Boucher, a construction engineer from Albany, at yesterday’s Red Sox-Tigers double-header. The longest home run ever hit by Ted Williams in Boston bounced squarely off his head in the first inning of the second game.
He had never sat in the Fenway Park bleachers before. There were 7,897 fans besides himself perched on the sun-drenched wind-whipped concrete slope. Indeed was the elderly Mr. Boucher honored when crowned by a five-ounce baseball that the game’s greatest hitter had socked some 450 feet.
“How far away must one sit to be safe in this park?” asked Ted’s target for the day, feeling his pate tenderly.
He was sitting in the 33rd row of the bleachers, next to the aisle dividing the first and second sections behind the home bullpen. This was a little more than half way up the slope, and surely out of range of anything less than light artillery, he thought.
“I didn’t even get the ball,” said Mr. Boucher. “They say it bounced a dozen rows higher, but after it hit my head I was no longer interested.”
Asked why he did not defend himself by at least putting up his hands, the engineer replied, “I couldn’t see the ball. Nobody could. The sun was right in our eyes. All we could do was duck. I’m glad I didn’t stand up.”
The ball players were not the only ones who had trouble with the wind and sun. The next time the engineer from Albany sits in the bleachers he probably will move to the top row, don sunglasses, and take a glove out of his back pocket as Williams comes to bat.
He was not seriously hurt, because he was wearing a straw hat, in the crown of which was a soft label that acted as a cushion. The ball struck the very center of the crown -- a perfect bullseye. It made a tidy little hole that speaks well for the quality of the headspiece. One of my straw hats, for instance, would have broken up like a mat of shredded wheat struck by a hammer.
Mr. Boucher went to the first-aid room, but after being treated by Dr. Ralph McCarthy and two pretty nurses, he returned to his seat in row 33 and enjoyed the rest of the game.
“I am a great baseball fan and I am a Red Sox rooter. I’ve worked here since the start of the war,” said Mr. Boucher. “This is the first time I’ve sat in the bleachers. I couldn’t get into the grandstand.”
He has yet to recover a ball hit into the stands, although a fan all his life. Needless to say, he has never come any closer than he did yesterday.
Homer record for Ted
“What would I have done with it, anyhow?” he asked. “Well, maybe I could have sent it home to my grandson. I have a ball someplace that was autographed by the old Dodgers, fellows like Jake Daubert and Chief Meyers. I thought maybe I’d give it to the Cooperstown Museum.”
He would do better, it was suggested, if he gave his straw hat to the museum. It is quite possible that Williams will never hit a longer home run in Boston. Then the hat would make an impressive showing in a glass case, suitably inscribed:
“Hat worn by J.A. Boucher of Albany, June 9, 1946, when Ted Williams of Red Sox bounced his longest Boston home run off owner’s head. Note aperture.”
Williams has hit some tremendous homers at Fenway Park. One off Scarborough last week cleared the 420-foot mark in center field. In his first season he hit the one exit-high into the rightfield bleachers off Red Ruffing. But yesterday’s drive, borne on a high wind, was his record. Nobody present will forget it, least of all Joseph A. Boucher, who didn’t see it but certainly felt it.