Fittingly climaxing his 14-year career, Ted Williams, in what may have been his last appearance at bat, hit a two-run homer as his parting gift to Boston fans to boom the Red Sox to a 5-3 decision over the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon.
The blow, coming in the seventh inning with Dom DiMaggio aboard, off Dizzy Trout, more than repaid the 24,764 fans who honored him with a “Day” for the first time in his lengthy tenure as a major leaguer.
Williams must report to Willow Grove, Penn., by midnight tomorrow to take up active duties as a Marine captain flight instructor.
Waves cap to fans
Recipients of numerous gifts of varying values, including a new Cadillac, in a pre-game ceremony, the supposedly-steely Williams all but broke down while delivering a sincere “Thank You” speech.
Williams was so visibly moved by the fine turnout in his honor that he established a precedent by waving his cap, which he had held in his hand during the ceremonies, high in the air. The Kid turned to each major section of the ball park and gestured thusly so as not to slight any portion present.
Concluding a heart-warming speech, Williams calmly stated: “This is a day I’ll remember as long as I live, and I want to thank you fans in particular from the bottom of my heart!”
In addition to his game-winning homer, Williams clipped a single against the shift.
Mel Parnell, formerly a stumbling block for the Tigers, was knocked out for the third consecutive time by the Bengals (including two 1951 starts), but the stolid, deceiving rookie, Ike Delock, shut the door in the face of the for over the final two and one-third innings.
The visitors gave starter Virgil Trucks a one-run lead in the fifth on a Johnny Lipon single, walk to Gerry Priddy and George Kell’s two-bagger off the left-field wall.
Trucks was knocked out in the Sox half of the same inning after being handicapped by Matt Batts’ error. Ted Lepcio doubled off the wall and went to third on Sam White’s hard single, Lepcio held up temporarily as Lipon dived for White’s smash.
Parnell hit a high hopper off the plate and Batts, in throwing to first, hit Parnell on the shoulder, the ball caroming to right field. Lepcio and White scored and Parnell went to third. A clean left-center single by DiMaggio scored Parnell and Trout replaced Trucks.
In the seventh a walk to Kell, a fielder’s choice and Vic Wertz third homer of the year, a healthy belt over the Tigers’ bull pen about three rows into the bleachers, tied the score. Successive single by Don Kolloway and Batts chased Parnell and brought on Delock. He got Lipon on a fly to DiMag.
Trucks got by the sixth but got in trouble when Kolloway kicked DiMaggio’s grounder opening the seventh. After Jim Piersall flied out the pressure was on Williams up for what could be the last time as a major leaguer.
In this most dramatic and tense moment, with every fan in the ball park cognizant of what Williams has done under pressure in the past, the amazing Kid delivered.
Williams clipped a curve ball into the grandstand section near the runway, about eight rows deep for the 324th home run of his career and practically every fan in the ball park roared appreciation. The entire Red Sox dugout poured up the concrete steps in individual efforts to congratulate the angular slugger.