Inside Pitch

Sept. 28, 1941: Ted Williams goes 6-for-8 in a doubleheader against the A's to finish the 1941 season batting .406


By NICOLE PAPPAS

September 26, 2011


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – It has been 70 years since anyone in baseball has completed a season with a batting average of .400 or higher.

Boston Red Sox slugger and Hall of Famer Ted Williams was the last to accomplish this feat.

Ted Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

The 1941 season ended for the Red Sox on Sept. 28 – 70 years ago this week. The Red Sox were in Philadelphia playing a doubleheader against the Athletics. Boston defeated Philadelphia in both games, ending the season in second place in the American League.

But the Red Sox's two wins were overshadowed by a superb day at the plate for Williams. He played left field for the Red Sox in both games. Williams was 4-for-5 at the plate in the first game raising his batting average to .404. In the second game Williams went 2-for-3 to finalize his average for the season at .406.

With the .406 average in 1941, Williams became the first player since Bill Terry to reach .400. In 1930, Terry – like Williams a future Hall of Famer – batted .401 for the New York Giants.

The 1941 season was one of the best of Williams' career. In addition to the .406 batting average, he ended the season with 37 home runs and 120 runs batted in. Williams' .553 on-base percentage that season set a single-season record that stood for 61 years, surpassed only by Barry Bonds in 2002.

"Ted was the greatest hitter of our era," Hall of Famer Stan Musial said, "He loved talking about hitting and was a great student of hitting and pitchers."

Despite missing nearly five complete seasons for military service, Williams' career spanned 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. He was a career .344 hitter, with 521 home runs and 1,836 runs batted in. Williams' career .482 on-base percentage remains the highest of any player in history.

Williams was a 17-time All-Star and two-time American League Most Valuable Player. He earned six American League batting titles and had two Triple Crown seasons, accumulating the highest batting average, most runs batted in and most home runs in the AL in 1942 and 1947.

Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, receiving 93.4 percent of the Baseball Writers Association of America's votes in his first appearance on the ballot.

Upon his induction Williams said, "I've always been a lucky guy to have worn a baseball uniform, to have struck out or to have hit a tape measure home run."

Williams remains the last player with a single-season batting average above .400. In 1994 future Hall of Famer and San Diego Padres slugger Tony Gwynn came close to the .400 mark. Gwynn completed the strike-shortened 1994 season with a .394 average, falling just three hits short of .400.

Nicole Pappas was the public relations intern in the Class of 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program

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