Red Sox in History: September 28, 1960
It was their final home game of the regular season as they hosted the Baltimore Orioles for the back end of a two-game series. More importantly, though, for the Boston Red Sox and their fans, it would be the last time they would ever see their hero, Ted Williams, don their jersey as a player.
"The Splendid Splinter" had been spent his entire 19-year career with the Red Sox creating buzz about a franchise that was otherwise subpar during his time there. Williams was the face of Boston baseball since his arrival in 1939 at the tender age of 21 and now it was his time to ride off into the sunset.
Despite leaving the team for two separate tours of duty (first World War II then the Korean War), Williams never lost his ability to play the game he loved so much. In some ways, upon both of his returns, Williams only got better.
As great as Ted Williams was, he was never the poster-boy for being a fan favourite. Early in his career, after playing a bad game, he was booed. Williams never forgot that as he vowed never to give the fans of Fenway (or any other park for that matter) the time-honoured traditional curtain call - and, no matter how loud the ovation, he never did.
Fast-forward to September 28, 1960. 0-2 already, Ted Williams stepped to the plate in the eighth inning for what was the final time in his career. With his team down 4-2, Williams was facing 21-year-old righthander Jack Fisher of the Orioles. Fisher delivered and Williams made contact. The fans of Fenway rose and when they saw that ball clear the bullpen in right-field they erupted.
Theodore Samuel Williams capped off his illustrious career with a home run (the 521st of his career). As he was rounding the bases, Williams, as he discussed in Ken Burns' 'Baseball', debated to himself whether or not to give the fans what they had been longing from their star slugger all these years: a curtain call. Although Williams admitted it would be a nice gesture, he felt like he couldn't change his ways and decided not to give the Fenway Faithful a tip of the cap.
If Williams hadn't of hit a home run on his final at-bat, the legacy he left the game of baseball would not have changed the slighest. However, given the magnitude of his career despite never winning the World Series, it was only fitting that Ted Williams left the game of baseball the way he did: as the best.