IKE, back from Boy Scout camp, presented the lady of the little house and his PopPop with a gift he purchased at the camp store. It’s the thought that counts, but I’m worried that he is trying to tell us something about our advanced age with this walking stick.
With Ike back, it has been Mike’s turn for a week away with the Cub Scouts. Mike is the comic in the family. He could be writing standup routines for Steve Allen. (Wait, is Allen still on “The Tonight Show”?)
It’s been quiet around here with fewer kids. It gave me time to watch the Ted Williams American Masters TV special on PBS.
From what I know of Williams, the special got him pretty much right. It occurred to me that if he were a kid today, the best hitter in baseball would be diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
Williams was all about hitting the ball better than anyone, ever. Obsessive, one might say. He did a few other things well, including fly-fishing and flying early jet aircraft.
But his lack of people skills was striking. He simply could not or would not relate to many other people on a personal level. This included his wives, children, and many fellow players.
His battles with fans and the press were well-known. One exception: the late Leo E. Cloutier, former Sunday News sports editor and columnist and longtime impresario of the Union Leader Baseball Dinner.
Leo’s license plate was LC9 (his initials, Ted’s Red Sox number). Leo could get Ted, and many other big name “stars of the diamond whirl’’ (as Leo would put it) to attend the baseball dinners for small dollars. Today, a single bona fide star would cost a fortune.
One reason Ted, and others, liked Leo was that he was more fan than skeptical reporter. He treated them with kid gloves, and they reciprocated.
Williams loved fishing as much as baseball and had a New Brunswick camp just up the Miramichi River from William and Nackey Loeb, also fans of the Atlantic salmon, and of Ted. The Loebs were on good terms with the ball player. (Loeb once told his editors that when they were in a store the always-swearing Ted quickly cleaned up his language.)
My son and I were lucky enough to be at the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park. Having had a couple of strokes, Ted Williams was driven onto the field in a golf cart. The big-league players, almost all stars in their own right, acted like kids as they crowded around. I think it was one of Ted’s finest memories. I know it’s one of mine.
Write to Joe McQuaid at Publisher@unionleader.com or on Twitter at @deucecrew.