07/06/2002 03:18 am ET
Teammates remember Williams
By Mike Petraglia / MLB.com
BOSTON -- To three men, Friday's passing of Ted Williams was far more than the loss of one of the greatest baseball players in history -- it was loss of a lifelong friend.
Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dominic DiMaggio all played alongside number '9' in a Red Sox uniform. All agreed Friday, upon hearing the news, that there was far more to "Teddy Ballgame" than just one of the sweetest swings of all time.
But before reflecting on his life, there was the somber duty of dealing with the loss.
"I talked to Ted a week ago," Doerr, 84, told MLB.com Friday from his home in Oregon. "It was one day that I noticed I couldn't hear his voice too well, and he sounded like he was getting real weak. It still was a surprise in a way. But I know how he was and I know what he would want. He wouldn't want to suffer and he wouldn't want to live like that. So, I'm glad it didn't go on too long."
"I talked to Ted a couple of weeks ago, and I knew he wasn't that strong," added the 82-year-old Pesky, who suited up and was in uniform on the Red Sox bench for Friday's game at Fenway. "This is a very, very sad day. I didn't want to break down, being a grown man, but this is hard for anyone who really knew Ted."
"I was privileged to have played against my brother Joe and, at the same time, with my teammate Ted, who was like a brother to me," said DiMaggio.
Williams, a two-time AL Triple Crown winner (1942, '47), had a tremendous impact on all three on the field.
"We were as close as anyone with maybe the exception of Dom (DiMaggio) and Johnny (Pesky)," said Doerr, a second baseman, who like Williams has his number (1) retired by the Red Sox. "He was obviously one of the best hitters of all time. I don't know how you could be any better that he was offensively.
"He took charge in the clubhouse and was helpful to all of us," recalled DiMaggio. "Joe (DiMaggio) said he was the greatest hitter he ever saw and I agree. He was better in the outfield than how he was portrayed. Ted really worked hard at learning how to play fly balls off that left-field wall. He became a master at it. I remember how we all felt. It was unfair when he was called back into the service the second time. But he never complained and served the Marine Corps with distinction."
Pesky served in the military at the same time Williams did during World War II. Williams also lost most of the 1952 and '53 seasons to military service.
"He would always tell me that you have to carry yourself Johnny in the military like you do in baseball," said Pesky, who served in the Navy in World War II. "You have to take it seriously and be the best at what you do. That was really what Ted was all about - being the best at all times."
Doerr says Williams had personality traits that made him unmistakable and unforgettable.
"He had a sharp, dominating personality," said Doerr. "He was the type of person who was a great (U.S. Marines) gunner, a great pilot, a great fisherman. He was just so sharp at whatever he did. He wanted to dominate. He was a perfectionist and it showed. He did everything good.
"He was a friend, a very loyal friend. He's the type of guy who would do anything for you and if you needed something, in any spot, he'd be there for you," said Doerr.
Mike Petraglia is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached via email at Mike.Petraglia@mlb.com.This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.