August 21, 2002


Mr. Coffee? Mr. Freeze Dried? : DiMaggio or Williams: Pick One (Allen Barra, August 21 - 27, 2002, Village Voice)
Both Ted Williams (San Diego area) and Joe DiMaggio (San Francisco Bay area) were Californians, among the first great Far Western ballplayers. They were the two greatest everyday players in the game from the late '30s to 1950. DiMaggio-cool, aloof, controlled, and dignified-was often referred to as "the Cary Grant of baseball," though considering his shyness and taciturnity, Gary Cooper probably would have made a more appropriate comparison. Ted Williams-taller and rangier than Joe, open and volatile-was more like John Wayne, though given their respective war records, it would be fairer to say more like the characters Wayne played. They were friendly competitors, the greatest stars of the oldest and most bitter rivals in American professional sports. The answer to the question "Who was the most valuable?" might well be an answer to the question "Who was the greatest player of all time?"

That, of course, is just silly. Babe Ruth was as good a hitter as Williams and a better fielder and baserunner (until late in his career). But he was also a Hall of Fame level pitcher before he switched to playing the field full time. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2002 8:58 AM
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