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Thursday, December 13, 2012

USPS to Honor Baseball Great Ted Williams

 Legendary pro fisherman Stu Apte met Ted Williams in 1948 and shared his secret fishing spots with him for three months before he knew Williams was a baseball player.

Ted Williams was known for being one of Baseball’s greatest, but he also known for snagging fishing records in the Keys. Several of his old fishing buddies will recount their stories of Ted this Sunday at 4 pm at Robbie’s Marina at 77522 Overseas Highway in Islamorada FL.

Legendary pro fisherman Stu Apte will recount how he met Williams in 1948, share his secret fishing spots for three months before he know Williams was a baseball player. Williams signed his $100,000 annual endorsement with Sears at Apte’s home in the Keys because Williams didn’t want to miss out of three days on fishing with a trip to Chicago. He also attended two thanksgiving dinners at Williams’ FL home (hosted separately by two of Williams’ wives).

On Sunday, December 16, South Florida postal officials will present enlargements of the Ted Williams stamp to Irving R. Eyster, President, Matecumbe Historical Trust, and Stu Apte, Skip Bradeen, Hank Brown, Gary Ellis, and Tony Hammon who will share their recollections of fishing with “The Kid.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service issued the Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps, recognizing the accomplishments of Williams and three other baseball greats:  Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, and Willie Stargell.  Each of these Hall of Famers was a perennial All-Star selection and each left an indelible impression on the game. But at Robbie’s Marina on Sunday, it will be all about Williams.

Regarded as one of the all-time greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history, Williams (1918–2002) of the Boston Red Sox was the last Major League player to bat over .400 for a single season, in 1941. He hit .344 over a 19-year career, including 521 home runs.
During World War II, while in the prime of his career, Wil­liams enlisted in the Navy and began a flight training pro­gram after the 1942 season. He earned his wings as a second lieutenant in the Marines and became a flight instructor. He missed three full seasons of baseball during the war. He also missed most of two seasons in 1952 and 1953 while flying combat missions during the Korean War.                                                                              

Despite the interruptions to his career, Williams man­aged to win six American League batting titles and four home-run titles, even though Boston’s Fenway Park was difficult  for left-handed power hitters like Williams. He also was voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player twice. In 1947, his second season after returning from World War II, he won his second Triple Crown. In 1957, at age 39, he hit .388 and became the oldest player in the his­tory of the majors to win a batting championship; he then led the league in batting again the next year at age 40. He even batted a more than respectable .316 his final season, in 1960, at age 42.   

Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. In 1969, he became manager of the Washington Sen­ators and was named American League Manager of the Year. After four years, he retired from managing and moved to Florida to pursue a lifelong passion for fishing.   

Williams died in Florida July 5, 2002, at age 83.

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