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Ted Williams as manager

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  • Ted Williams as manager

    Why was Ted Williams hired as the Nats manager? I don't know if he expressed any interest after retiring about becoming a manager, but the hiring seemed to surprise many in baseball. Was Short trying to make a splash by hiring a legend?

    Overall, what was the general consesus about Teddy Ballgame as a manager? How well did he handle a pitching staff, in game decisions, etc.? I have read several times through the years that Ted didn't understand why his hitters didn't hit like him. Having said that, did any hitters improve, or regress, under his tutelage?

  • #2
    Again, going from memory, Ted Williams had a comfortable life in retirement with a big endorsement deal with Sears.

    Not sure if it was before, but the Redskins that year signed Vince Lombardi and the Maryland Terrapins signed Lefty Driesell. DC was the envy of the sports world for the first time in a long while. Short needed a big name to keep up.

    Williams may have been given equity in the team (similar to what the Redskins gave Lombardi). Not too many owners were willing to give up equtiy back then, so that might have clinched the deal for Williams.

    Williams was a strict disciplinarian. One thing that annoyed players was his prohibition against playing golf during the seasaon. He felt that the golf swing destroyed the batting swing.

    In his first year, batting averages for all players seemed to jump (inlcuding perennial no hit wonders, Ed Brinkman and Paul Casanova). He supposedly told Brinkman to choke up on the bat for greater control. He did wonders for Mike Epstein.

    Williams also did things unheard of back then (or even now). He bought Joe Coleman in on relief on a few occasions. He replaced a starter (Barry Moore) in the first inning with another starter (Casey Cox).

    After a promising first year, however, the second year proved to be a disaster.
    Last edited by TallIndian; 05-12-2008, 05:59 PM.

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    • #3
      I remember reading the local papers before the 70 season and there was a lot of hope that the Senators could contend in 70. There were some pretty good players on the team but things just didn't work out for them.

      I couldn't say how much Williams helped the hitters. The couple of games I went to, Senators hitters didn't do much. I remember being disappointed that Frank Howard didn't hit any HRs while I was in attendance, especially after seeing the white painted seats in the upper deck around the OF. It didn't seem humanly possible to hit a ball as far as som of those seats were.

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      • #4
        I think Short hired Williams to give some publicity to the team. Williams, DiMaggio, and Musial were the greatest living ball-players, so hiring one of them was a coup...and neither Dimaggio nor Musial was going to manage the Nats.

        I'm pretty sure that Williams helped the Senators' hitters. In '69, Eddie Brinkman hit about .260...and, fine fielder that he was, he always hit about .200. Howard brought up his average, as well. I haven't checked the avewrages, but I suspect that every player hit better that first year.

        The 1970 season was not disastrous, but wasn't an improvement over '69.

        The catastrophe was in Short's trades: the infamous Denny McClain trade, for one. Short traded Joe Coleman, Jim Hannan, Aurelio Rodriguez, and Ed Brinkman for McClain and Eliott Maddox. As Povich or someone in the Post put it, Short had traded two starters and the left side of the infield for a single pitcher. (Maddox had a good year with the Yankees later, but then tore a knee. Still, he was a "maybe future" guy.).

        As I remember, Short also traded Del Unser, a fine CF who hit decently, for the rights to Curt Flood...who was testing baseball's "we own you forever" contract clause.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by welch View Post
          As I remember, Short also traded Del Unser, a fine CF who hit decently, for the rights to Curt Flood...who was testing baseball's "we own you forever" contract clause.
          Unser was traded 3 months after Short moved the team to Texas. Flood was acquired from the Phillies for Gene Martin, Greg Goossen and Jeff Terpko.

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          • #6
            Here are some batting average numbers from 1969, Williams' first year at the helm:

            Overall team batting average rose 27 points from 1968 to .251.

            Del Unser raised his average from .230 to .286

            Frank Howard struck out less than 100 times (96) for the first time in his career, while walking 102 times, the first time he drew over 100 walks.

            Hank Allen's .277 batting average was 38 points higher than his lifetime average.

            Mike Epstein added 44 points to his batting average, from .244 in 1968 to .278.

            Even Paul Casanova hit .216, an improvement from his .196 the previous year.

            The biggest gainer was Ed Brinkman's 81 point jump from .185 to .266.

            In addition to the batting average improvements, the aforementioned players listed also saw hikes in nearly all offensive categories. Of course, 1969 was the year that the pitchers mound was lowered and that probably played a hand as well. Maybe Williams wasn't a great manager, but perhaps he would have been a tremendous hitting coach.

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            • #7
              Williams is given too much credit for the increase in Senators averages from 1968 to 1969. With the mound lowered, a lot of players hit better than they did in 1969. The increase in Senators' averages wasn't remarkable when compared to other teams. Also, for players who were regulars in 1968, they were facing expansion pitchers in 1969.

              I think the 1969 Topps card has created an urban legend. The back of the card notes the increase in Senator player averages from the previous year.
              http://cgi.ebay.com/1969-Topps-539-T...QQcmdZViewItem

              He did help Frank Howard be more patient. In ST 1969, Williams asked Howard how is that someone who hits 44 HR gets walked only 54 times. So Howard learned to be more patient at the plate and increased his walk totals.

              If Williams had any impact, it was increasing the Senators on-base percentage.

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