There has never been a more poignant last at bat for a major star in the history of major league baseball than that of Ted Williams, the Splendid Splinter, the last .400 hitter, the man who was quite simply the greatest hitter who ever lived. Many classic accounts have been written by witnesses of that final game on September 28, 1960 at Fenway, the ballpark where Williams had such a string of spectacular successes, and baseball historians have over and over again dissected and rhapsodized with great reverence that grey day over 35 years ago.
Williams himself recalled the day as "one of the lousiest days you ever saw. The wind was blowing in---a dark, dreary, drizzly day, cold and threatening." His Sox were wrapping up a 65-89 season in which they would finish seventh in the AL, 32 games behind the Yankees, but for 10,454 full-throated patrons, his eighth inning plate appearance was the only moment that mattered. Acknowledging that this was it, the crowd gave Williams a two-minute ovation as he stepped into the lefthanded batter's box. Expressionless, Williams took the first pitch for a ball. Then came a high fastball at which Williams took a ferocious swing. He missed, but there was no doubt about his intentions. On the 1-1 pitch, Williams launched a 440-foot bomb that caromed off the canopy atop the bench in the Red Sox bullpen. The fans stood and delivered a ringing tribute to Williams, who, true to his custom, was oblivious to it, taking a businesslike home run trot with his head down. As he crossed the plate, head down, he briskly shook on deck hitter Jim Pagliaroni's hand, then made a beeline to the dugout, where he remained as the crowd implored him to make a curtain call for a full four minutes. An impervious Williams never reappeared.
In the Red Sox clubhouse, Jim Carroll, a close friend of Ted's, visited with him immediately after the game as had been planned. It was then and there that Carroll, our consignor, retrieved these, the very cleats that Williams wore during his last at bat, for his final hit, the 521st home run of his extraordinary career. Carroll and Williams had been friends and fishing buddies for more than a decade. Accompanying the cleats is a package of information and news clippings corroborating our consignor's close friendship with the Splendid Splinter. Among these articles of provenance are excerpts from the 2004 book on Williams entitled, "Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero" by Leigh Montville in which Carroll is frequently mentioned. These excerpts include specific mention of Carroll's acquisition of these cleats with Williams' permission, as well as the fact that it was Carroll himself who drove Williams home after his grand exit that day.
Made by Spot Bilt, the well-worn cleats each have Ted's number "9" written in black marker on both tongues. A custom reinforced toe protector was added to the right cleat. Appearing just as they were, when removed by William after perhaps the most defining moment of his career, each still holds Fenway Park dirt caked in the spikes. LOA from Jim Carroll.
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