Friday, January 7, 2011

Ted Williams, Pedro Ramos, Dizzy Trout And Autographs

This is a post about trying to get to the bottom of some mythic stories. Stories that sound good but don't seem to stand up to scrutiny. The following site

Has a passage from the book "The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship" by David Halberstam. Here it is:

"When [Ted] was generous there was no one more generous, and when he was petulant there was no one more petulant, and sometimes he was both within a few seconds. Once in the mid-1950s, Pedro Ramos, then a young pitcher with Washington, struck Ted out, which was a very big moment for Ramos. He rolled the ball into the dugout to save, and later, after the game, the Cuban right-hander ventured into the Boston dugout with the ball and asked Ted to sign it. Mel Parnell was watching and had expected an immediate explosion, Ted being asked to sign a ball he had struck out on, and he was not disappointed. Soon there was a rising bellow of blasphemy from Williams, and then he had looked over and seen Ramos, a kid of 20 or 21, terribly close to tears now. Suddenly Ted had softened and said, “Oh, all right, give me the goddamn ball,” and had signed it. Then about two weeks later he had come up against Ramos again and hit a tremendous home run, and as he rounded first he had slowed down just a bit and yelled to Ramos, “I’ll sign that son of a bitch too if you can ever find it.”"

Now a writer at Baseball Think Factory wrote a refutation of this. It is at

Tracer: The Ted Williams-Pedro Ramos Story

My problem is that "The Biographical Encyclopedia of Baseball" has almost the same story about Ted Williams and Dizzy Trout. Page 1145, the entry on Trout. It does not say which year. It is the one edited by Pietrusza, Silverman and Gershman. Does anyone know anything about these stories? Any of them true? Are they told about other players? When was the first one reported? I doubt they are all true!

In the Dizzy Trout version (the Biographical Encyclopedia quotes his son, Steve), he strikes out Williams to preserve a 2-1 victory. I could find no game even remotely close to something like this for Trout vs. Boston using the Baseball Reference and Retrosheet game logs.

Update January 9: Rob Neyer discussed both the Ramos story and the Trout story in his book on baseball legends (pages 127-130). The Ramos story, he says, comes from Hy Hurwitz of the Boston Globe. The Trout story, he says, comes from Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo.

There is something plausible about the Trout case. On August 29, 1946, the Tigers beat the Red Sox 9-8 in 14 innings. Trout pitched the last 6.2 innings to win the game (allowing no runs on 3 hits and 3 walks). He struck out 2 batters but neither was Williams since the Baseball Reference boxscore shows no K's for him in that game. It is possible that Trout retired Williams in a key situation with runners on base. But the boxscore does not show that and the only news stories I found did not describe much about the game.

The Red Sox sent 64 men to the plate in the game, meaning that the leadoff man made the last out of the game. So Trout certainly did not get Williams out in the last inning.

But on Sept. 11, 13 days later, Williams did hit a HR off of Trout. So the story is not that far off at least as far as the events on the field are concerned.

Update January 9, 2016: Trout walked Williams both times he faced him in that August 29th game. One was intentional. Williams did not bat in the last inning. The play by play is now at Retrosheet

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