When Ted Williams strode to the plate at Fenway Park in late September of 1946 for a game against the Yankees, he encountered for the first time a stocky, awkward-looking kid from St. Louis behind the plate. The Splendid Splinter obviously did not know Yogi Berra, his fellow World War II veteran who was replacing the legendary Bill Dickey, because he thought to himself, “Who the hell are the Yankees trying to fool with this guy?”
As the years passed, however, Williams’ internal dialogue would turn into a much friendlier external one. By the time the photo at right was taken, in 1957, the two had been American League rivals for many years as well as All-Star Game teammates every season but one since 1948 (that happened in ’52, which Williams spent as a fighter pilot in Korea). Williams, though less of a splinter, was still splendid, batting a remarkable .388 that year, while Grampa posted his ninth straight 20-home-run season and helped the Yankees reach the World Series for the ninth time in his career.
Grampa talked to batters. A lot. He was never mean and didn’t intend to distract; he just liked to chat. If a hitter wouldn’t engage, Gramp would flick little balls of dirt into their shoes until they paid him some heed.
On “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in 1998, Grampa relayed one of his many home-plate conversations with his Red Sox pal. He said he asked Williams, an avid fisherman, how they were biting. He asked if he’d been to any good restaurants in town. And on and on until Williams turned to him and snapped, “Shut up, you little dago, I’m up here to hit.”
Both men excelled at that, of course, and both wound up in the Hall of Fame. The rivalry they were cornerstones of for so long will be renewed this week in New York and could be continued in October, as both the Yankees and Red Sox appear to be postseason bound.
Williams passed away in 2002. Grampa died Sept. 22, 2015. But I know somewhere, he is still talking to Ted.
Lindsay Berra is a freelance journalist who was a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine and a reporter at MLB.com.
The U.S. Open women’s champion more than doubled her career earnings, reportedly agreed to a new $8.4 million endorsement deal with Adidas that would be the biggest the company has ever done with a female athlete, and signed a sponsorship deal with Nissan. Not a bad week.
Miami Heat Chief Revenue Officer Jeffrey David was let go by the team two months after being hired because of an FBI investigation into a money-laundering scheme he allegedly took part in while in a similar role with the Sacramento Kings.
2026 Olympic Bid Race
The northern Japanese city of Sapporo reportedly will tell the IOC it’s dropping its bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, leaving four bidders still in the mix – Calgary; Stockholm; Erzurum, Turkey; and a three-city bid from Italy.
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The Major League Baseball Players Association hired XAVIER JAMES as deputy chief operating officer.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff named MELVIN J. HINES IIathletic director. Hines was athletic director at Alabama State University.
The University at Buffalo promoted NATE WILLS to deputy athletic director and chief operating officer.
The University of Central Arkansas promoted MATT WHITING to associate athletic director for external relations.
Coastal Carolina University hired KEVIN DAVIS as assistant athletic director for media relations. Davis was an assistant director of athletic communications and public relations at Georgia Tech.
The University of Evansville hired MARK IZQUIERDO as director of compliance and student-athlete services.
Fordham University hired JASMINE CANNADY as associate athletic director of marketing, promotions and tickets. Cannady was assistant marketing director at the University of Notre Dame.
Houston Baptist University hired STAN WILLIAMSON as deputy athletic director. Williamson was athletic director at the University of West Alabama.
Morehead State University added the title of senior woman administrator to women’s golf head coach STEPHANIE BARKER.
Longwood University promoted MICHELLE MEADOWS SHULAR to deputy athletic director and RICK CANTER to associate athletic director for student-athlete enhancement.
Oregon State University baseball coach PAT CASEYannounced his retirement from coaching after 24 years with the program but will stay with the university as a senior associate athletic director and special assistant to vice president and athletic director Scott Barnes.
The University of South Florida hired LELO PRADO as deputy athletic director of development and BRANDON HALL as senior associate athletic director and chief financial officer.
Texas A&M University hired JONATHAN BOWLING as senior associate athletic director for athletics compliance. Bowling was associate athletic director for football compliance and administration at the University of Tennessee.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley hired KIM GRAHAM as associate athletic director for operations.
Washington State University hired LISA WAITE as associate athletic director for emerging media and creative services. Waite was creative services director for Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Atlanta Falcons promoted BRIAN CEARNS to senior director of communications.
The San Francisco 49ers promoted BRENT SCHOEBto chief revenue officer.
The XFL named ROXANNE KOSARZYCKIgeneral counsel. Kosarzycki was senior vice president and general counsel for Global Imaging Systems.
CAA Sports hired RACHEL CONLAN to work with its property sales, brand consulting and athlete representation groups. Conlan was global chief marketing operations officer for Havas.
Madison Square Garden Co. hired RICHARD CONSTABLE as executive vice president and global head of government relations and public affairs. Constable was senior vice president of government relations and commercial contracts for Wyndham Worldwide.
ANC named VICTOR IKEDA-WOODhead of service platforms, TERRELL DAISaccount executive and STACEY TALVEhuman resources manager.
On Location Experiences hired GREG BARCKHOFFas director of sponsorship. Barckhoff was vice president of sales and marketing for ETA Creative Event Producers
Snodgrass Partners hired PETER DAVIS as vice president of business development.
Elevate Sports Ventures launched a college vertical, Elevate On Campus, with MARK DYERas president of the new venture.
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