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From the archives | April 23

Ted Williams sensational in Fenway debut

Rookie’s efforts not enough though as Red Sox lose

In this June 15, 1939, photo, less than two months after his debut in Boston, Williams took a cut at Fenway Park.


In this photo from June 15, 1939, less than two months after his debut in Boston, Ted Williams took a cut at Fenway Park.

Shades of the one and only Babe Ruth were at long last brought back to Fenway Park yesterday in the person of Ted “Slugger” Williams, 20-year-old rookie outfielder of the Red Sox.

Making his first appearance before a local Sunday crowd in his fourth major league contest, this gangling lad from the Pacific Coast went to town as he belabored all sorts of Philadelphia Athletics’ pitching for four straight hits ranging all the way from his first big league home run through a towering two-bagger to a pair of wickedly-hit singles.

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Yet all Ted’s phenomenal efforts, which were topped off by a sensations running catch, went for naught as far as producing a Red Sox victory was concerned, when a steady succession of ineffective Hose hurling enabled the revamped A’s to carry off the series finale, 12-8, after nearly three hours of pulling and hauling.

Satisfaction in defeat

If ever it can be said that New England baseball fandom, 12,000 of whom were on hand despite rain and cold, is satisfied in defeat, yesterday was the time.

No better proof could be offered than the fact that every man’s son among the spectators sat through the inclement conditions when the game was obviously lost to await titanic Ted’s final appearance at the plate in the ninth inning. Although he finally was stopped this time by the last of the A’s pitchers, LeRoy (“Tarzan”) Parmalee, Ted gave them their money’s worth. He nearly drove Left Fielder Bob Johnson through the left field scoreboard before Johnson finally speared a line drive that was prevented from landing up against the barrier only by the unfavorable East Wind.

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Williams lost little time in sending the intrepid patriots into paroxysms. In the very first inning, he smashed a Luther Thomas fast ball down the wind into the first pews of the right center field bleachers. The blow, which scored his pal, Jim Tabor ahead of Ted and put the Sox into a 4-3 lead, couldn’t have been more appropriate for the Kid’s maiden fourmaster.

No more than a half a dozen homers have ever hit into that particular sector just to the right of where the higher and lower junctures of the huge sun theater connects and the reading is something over 400 feet. Roy Johnson, Footsie Marcum, Lou Gehrig and Tommy Heinrich are the only ones who could be recalled last night as having accomplished the feat. The wind really had nothing to do with this sock either. It was a high sinking liner that was traveling as fast when it landed among countless scrambling fans as when it left Ted’s bat.

Towering double off sign

Ted next came to bat in the third. Sox were trailing 5-4 and Henry Pippen, right-handed rookie from Sacramento, was toiling for the A’s by this time. Slugger Ted promptly changed his direction and smashed a towering drive high up against the tie sign on the center field wall. It missed clearing by inches, was good for two bases and ignited a Sox rally that wound up with them leading.

Pippen was again the victim in the fifth when Williams ripped a fierce line single into right field which was rendered useless when his mates couldn’t follow suit.

Ted came up next in the sixth. In this round the Hose had rallied against the left-handed Edgar Smith and were leading 7-6. Runners were on first and third. The crowd pleaded for a hit, but were taken aback when Smith slipped over two beautiful curve strikes on Ted. Then Smitty tried to sneak a fast ball past the new hero. Wham! It shot back through the box for a clean single, and the Sox were ahead, 8-6.

That completed Ted’s constructive work at the dish for the day, but he wasn’t through performing.

Tries to save game

In the fatal eighth, which saw the A’s come from behind to rout no less than four Sox hurlers and clinch Williams did his best to save the day.

The A’s had one of their six runs across so were still trailing 8-7. There was one out and runners on first and second when Big Bob Johnson hoisted a Joe Heving pitch into short right center. It looked for all the world like a safe hit and if anybody were going to make the catch it would be Doc Cramer, that paragon of center fielders. Out of nowhere came the long loping Williams. Going at full tilt he stuck his gloved hand down to about his knee and snatched the dropping sphere.

It was a mighty though vain effort. The A’s refused to be stopped and went on from there to score five more times after the two were out to walk off with the decision.

Outside of Williams and the hitting of Bobby Doerr and Double-X Jimmie Foxx to a somewhat lesser degree, there was little to cheer about in the Sox cause.

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