Ted Williams [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Ted Williams

07-05-2002, 08:37 PM
.......1918-2002...... Memories of Boston Baseball in the 50's and seeing him cast a flyrod with Jack Sharkey at the old Boston Sportsmen show in the 50's .... My Dad brought me and was born the same year as Ted... he past away 3 years ago.

07-06-2002, 02:59 PM

Good article below on Mr. Williams who was also a great fly fisherman as well as the greatest hitter in base ball to date.

Saw him play once against the yankees in NYC when I was kid growing up in Northern NJ.

I have had his book "The Big Three" Tarpon, Bonefish, Atlantic Salmon for twenty years now.

One of my companies Communications department managers interviewed Ted about ten years ago for a sports article. He went down to his house in Florida for the interview. Most famous person he has ever interviewed.

Ted was just the way he has appeared to us all of these years, very straight forward. My friend asked him the famous question why did he risk not batting .400 playing the last day of the 1941 season when he could have sat the doubleheader out and still would have batted .400. Ted responded "What the hell did you expect me to sit on the bench and watch knowing that I would not take on the challenge and risk, etc..." it was something like that he said. He went 6 for 8 and ended up at the infamous .406 season ending batting average.

Los Angeles Times

Great Hitter Could Also Catch (Fish)


Ted Williams the baseball player will be remembered for his many remarkable accomplishments: his .344 lifetime batting average--.406 in 1941--his .482 on-base percentage, his 521 homers ...

Ted Williams the fisherman posted some pretty impressive numbers as well. How's this for a Triple Crown: 1,000 Atlantic salmon, 1,000 bonefish and 1,000 tarpon, all caught on a fly rod.

In 19 years with the Boston Red Sox, Williams amassed 2,654 hits. On one of his countless memorable days on the water, off Peru, Williams caught a black marlin that tipped the scale at an eye-popping 1,235 pounds. Indeed, Williams' proficiency with a bat was, in many ways, matched by his proficiency with a rod and reel.

"I was host of the 'American Sportsman' TV show for 20 years and got to fish with most of the world's great fishermen, and [Williams] was the best all-around fisherman I ever met," said Curt Gowdy, 80, also a legendary sports broadcaster.

And if Williams, who died Friday, was considered a perfectionist on the field, you should have seen him on the water.

Sammy Lee, a Birmingham, Ala., talk-show host, met Williams in 1992 in Florida to tape an interview for his fishing show. It was the beginning of a friendship Lee valued above all others.

Reached recently at his home, he recalled the time Williams invited him to spend a week at his cabin on the Miramichi River in New Brunswick, Canada. Lee, a former pro bass fisherman, had taught Williams a thing or two about how to put a largemouth on the hook, but he was new to fly fishing and thus was in for some schooling he'll never forget.

Williams wouldn't even let Lee on the river the first day; instructing him instead to watch and learn from its bank. Lee gave his full attention to the master, knowing that when his time came, he would be under intense scrutiny.

On the second day, Williams sent Lee wading precariously down river, entrusted with one of Williams' signature fly-casting rigs.

"It was basically my first time free fishing in a river like that, and it was my first time fly fishing," Lee says. "And I have this man critiquing me? Talk about pressure!"

The pressure proved too much. While Lee was trying to negotiate around a large rock, the swift current caught him.

"I go head over heels," he says. "My waders fill up and my feet are sticking straight up in the air. And I remember thinking, 'I don't care if I die, as long as I don't let go of the rod and reel' because this is Williams' rod and reel we're talking about."

When Lee regained his footing, he glanced toward the bank at Williams, who barked, "Why are you looking at me? You can't catch anything looking at me!"

Later that day, Lee was told by Williams' personal guide that the cantankerous old slugger had been thinking along the same lines as the fallen fly caster.

"He said to his guide, 'I don't care if that [SOB] dies, as long as he doesn't let go of my rod and reel,' " Lee recalls with a laugh.

That was just Williams being Williams, Lee assures. The Hall of Famer who refused to tip his cap to fans during most of his illustrious career with the Red Sox would willingly give the shirt off his back to any of his many close friends.

Williams' abrasive style wasn't for everyone. But anyone with a passion for fishing shared common ground with him--to a point.

Williams' love of fishing, and of the great outdoors, went far beyond the mere acts of casting and retrieving a fly, waiting for the magic moment of the strike and then playing the fish.

He demanded of himself the perfect cast, the perfect retrieve and, once a fish was hooked, the perfect fight. His thirst for knowledge was insatiable; he learned to read rivers as well as he could pitches.

Whether on the Miramichi or in the tarpon-rich waters closer to his home in Hernando, Fla., Williams was a purist in every sense.

He meticulously tied his own flies the night before each outing--and brooked no interruptions while he did so.

"You did not come downstairs and if you did, you did not initiate conversation--you did not interfere whatsoever during his fly-tying time," Lee says.

Williams was respectful of those fishing with him only if they took the sport as seriously as he did--and didn't bungle along the way.

"The first time I went fishing with him, all he did was give me hell all day," Gowdy recalls. "But I learned to give it right back and that made him laugh."

Gowdy recalls a trip with Williams to the Yucatan peninsula to film a show on fishing for permit, a powerful and elusive fish.

The fish could be seen in great numbers, but none bit over the course of three days. Gowdy's producer said that if none were caught by noon the fourth day, the episode would have to be canceled.

Williams bet Gowdy $500 he would land a permit long before then, and then raised the wager to $1,000 as the deadline approached.

Gowdy declined at accept both wagers, and sure enough, Williams finally fooled a permit into biting.

Gowdy then hooked up.

"We ended up catching about five permit and got a good show out of it," Gowdy says. "That's how confident this guy was in his ability."

Permit, tarpon and bonefish were among Williams' favorites, but never was he more in his element--except perhaps when he was at the plate--than amid a run of migrating salmon.

"He always told me that Atlantic salmon was his favorite because he thought that presenting a fly in a river to a migrating salmon offered the greatest challenge of any other game fish," Lee says. "He told me that salmon were the purest-fighting fish he ever went after."

And he went after them often. Williams reportedly turned down an offer of $100,000 to serve as an advisor for Robert Redford in his role in "The Natural"--because the salmon were running.

The salmon of the Miramichi inspired him to buy a cabin on its banks. He went after salmon in Russia in the summer of 1991. He headed them off on the Cascapedia River in Quebec in 1993. That was where he fooled an estimated 35-pounder with a long cast of a dry fly. But the fish won its freedom after an epic battle the angler talked about for the rest of his life.

In those years that remained, Williams' life had been slowed considerably by a series of health problems that eventually took away even his ability to cast.

But there was one milestone that remained: his induction, on Jan. 31, 2000, into the International Game Fish Assn.'s Fishing Hall of Fame.

After entertaining the crowd with tales of his exploits with rod and reel, Williams brought about an eruption of cheers and applause when he did something he refused to do on the baseball diamond: He tipped his cap to his fans.

07-06-2002, 04:49 PM
Thanks Hal...great story.

07-08-2002, 12:02 PM

Imagine what it would have been like fly fishing with Ted ?

I hear Tiger Woods is taking up fly fishing with his buddy Mark O'meara. Wonder how Tiger would like being out fished by one of us?



Dble Haul
07-08-2002, 12:23 PM
Originally posted by pmflyfisher
Wonder how Tiger would like being out fished by one of us?

Probably the same as any of us would feel getting outplayed by him on a golf course. :razz:

07-08-2002, 12:44 PM
Count me in as a big fan of Ted's. He has been quoted as saying he's a fisherman who plays baseball for a living! My kind of guy. In the spotlight all his adult life, always seemed to pull things together and land on his feet. Few people have had such an impact on sports as he.

"A natural"

07-09-2002, 09:05 AM
Ted used to do a lot of fishing up in the Colebrook/Pittsburg NH area.

My wife used to go and grab his autograph... for some reason, we cant find anything with it on it now :o

07-15-2002, 09:22 PM
Some more "Splendid Splinter" fly fishing stories.

Must of been a hell of a caster.


07-16-2002, 01:20 PM
Ah, John, think about “Field of Dreams.” Nothing like baseball memories to dredge up memories of our own fathers. Good thread.

Back in the mid-eighties, some hotshot hitter was on an early-season pace close to .400. Inevitably the comparisons with Ted Williams came up. Someone asked Curt Gowdy how Ted would do against the then-current crop of pitchers. Gowdy said Ted would probably bat around .250-.275. The interviewer was surprised and asked Gowdy “Are today’s pitchers that much better than the ones that faced Ted?”

“No,” Gowdy replied, “but you’ve got to remember that Ted is sixty-five years old.”

07-16-2002, 07:51 PM
.....loved that one... and it's true...don't forget... Ted has 1000 plus Bonefish, Tarpon, Salmon etc. under his belt also.

07-16-2002, 09:34 PM
Did Ted have those catch numbers certified ? Those are some big life time stats for any angler, a 1,000 of each species.

Note, I was in a meeting yesterday with our Communications Manager and we were talking about his interview 7 years ago with Ted. John Henry was there, some interesting insights from my friend.