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Williams remembered as American icon

By United Press International   |   July 5, 2002 at 6:05 PM   |   Comments

Reaction and comments on the death of Ted Williams:

President Bush: "With the passing of Ted Williams, America has lost a baseball legend. Whether serving the country in the armed forces or excelling on the baseball diamond, Ted Williams demonstrated unique talent and love of country. He inspired young ballplayers across the nation for decades and we will always remember his persistence on the field and his courage off the field. Ted gave baseball some of its best seasons -- and he gave his own best seasons to his country. He will be greatly missed."

Hall of Famer Yogi Berra: "This is a sad day for baseball, a sad day for anyone who knew Ted. Nobody was more loyal, generous, corageous, more respected than Ted. He sacrificed his life and his career for his country. But he became what he alaways wanted to be -- the greatest hitter ever. The Red Sox were our rivals, but Ted was a good friend. Always has been. I liked to chat with him when he came up to hit, but nobody had fiercer concentration. He was just a great guy."

Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto: "I am truly heartbroken. We have lost another ballplayer, another great person. Ted Williams was one of the most exciting players I ever saw. When I was just a rookie in 1941, he took me under his wing. After he hit a double one day, he called timeout and told me, `kid, you've got a chance to play for the Yankees for a long time so bear down.' He was a credit to the game and did so much for so many people."

Former Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs: "This is a very sad day for baseball. One of the game's great legends is gone. Ted Williams was the John Wayne of Baseball. A fighther pilot, a sportsman, an American hero. I remember the first time I met him. In 1976, only a few months after I was drafted, I was standing in line at a movie theater and he was right behind me. I was almost speechless, but I introduced myself and told him that I was just drafted by the Red Sox. He looked at me and said, `can you hit?' I told him I hit .485 in my senior year of high school and he said, `you'll do great.'"

Former Red Sox manager Don Zimmer: "When I was managing the Red Sox, (general manager) Heywood Sullivan asked me if it would be OK if Ted Williams came down to spring training for a couple of weeks and worked with the hitters. OK? I thought it would be great. And the first day he walked on the field, the place just went wild. And it was that way every day for the five or six weeks he was there. He was just great. And they loved him."

Former Red Sox and current New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens:

"This is very disappointing news. I will miss him. I remember the first couple of years in the majors being intimidated by him and I've always been in awe of him. A good memory is one time he told me if he faced me, he would look for my slider. He said, 'I sure know I can hit your fast ball.'"

Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey: "Ted's passing signals a sad day, not only for baseball fans, but for every American. He was a cultural icon, a larger-than-life personality. He was great enough to become a Hall of Fame player. He was caring enough to be the first Hall of Famer to call for the inclusion of Negro League stars in Cooperstown. He was brave enough to serve our country as a Marine in not one, but two conflicts. Ted Williams is a hero for all generations."

Former Red Sox second baseman and teammate Bobby Doerr: "Ted was a great team player. He wanted to win. He patted everyone on the back. He took the pressure off the rest of the players. He was a loyal friend. He was ahead of his time in baseball in many ways."

Hall of Famer Whitey Ford: "He was one of my idols, along with (Joe) DiMaggio, Mickey (Mantle) and Stan Musial. He was so nice to my kids. My sons, Eddie and Tommy, went to Ted's camp about 35 years ago in Lakeville, Mass. My wife, Joan, and I went to visit them at the camp and Ted asked us to go and have lunch with him. Joan asked Ted about hitting and he got up in the middle of the restaurant, took his menu, wrapped it up and started showing her about hitting. He was the greatest hitter I ever faced."

Hall of Famer Stan Musial: "Ted was the greatest hitter of our era. He won six batting titles and served his country for five years. He would have won more. He loved talking about hitting. He studied hitting and pitchers. He was the greatest. We're all saddened by his passing."

Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk: "I first met him at spring training. He was very much involved early in the spring. He came right over to me. He was loud, aggressive and assured. He comes over and was asking me questions about hitting. Here I am, an 18-year-old. It's a sad day for baseball. Knowing Ted, everyone was hanging on to yesteryear through him. It's a sad day."

Hall of Famer Bob Feller: "He was one of my best friends on earth and the greatest hitter I ever faced. I faced a lot of guys, including Lou Gehrig. He was a great friend to me wife Anne and me. He was a great American."

Hall of Famer Willie McCovey: "Ted helped me a lot when I first started. He gave me a lot of tips on hitting. I met him in Scottsdale during my first spring training with the Giants. He was still with the Red Sox. I used to pick his brain, being a rookie and all, and he was willing to give me advice. I always credit him with helping me. All of his advice turned out to be good for me -- bat selection, weight of bats, everything. He was a student of pitchers. I applied much of what he told me about his theories of hitting and it worked for me. We ended up with the same number of home runs and that means a lot to me."

Hall of Famer Joe Morgan: "Ted was like John Wayne. He was a man's man. As a Hall of Famer, every time you went to the Hall of Fame, you wanted Ted to be there, as it put a stamp of approval on your being there. His being at my induction was the stamp of approval I needed."

New York Yankees manager Joe Torre: "He was a mountain of a man. He had a great presence. He was a tough customer. I was fortunate to have met him and have been in his company. He loved talking about hitting. I was lucky to have sat next to him for an entire game once and he talked about hitting throughout the entire game. He once told me that he thought Paul O'Neil was perhaps one of the best hitters in baseball and I know Paul took that very personally. Something that meant a lot to Paul. He was more than baseball though, I think it was Bob Costas who said John Wayne played Ted Williams in all of his movies. He was a special guy."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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