Lost Interview, along with DK Productions, Inc., was courteous enough to overnight us an exclusive copy of The Lost Interview of The Great Ted Williams -- never before seen footage of a 1997 interview featuring Ted Williams (conducted by Bob Lobel). We here at Over The Monster want to use this opportunity to take a look back on the life and career of Ted Williams, as well as give our readers a little insight as to what the short-film offers.
The product description from Amazon.com (where the DVD can be purchased) reads as follows:
BRAND NEW AND AVAILABLE FOR THE FIRST TIME! In 1997, legendary baseball star, Ted Williams, granted a rare interview to his friend and sportscaster, Bob Lobel. It was the 9th month of the 9th day that #9 decided to finally tell the world his story. The interview took place at Fenway Park, next to the red seat Williams made famous. Shortly after, Ted became ill and the interview was put away, awaiting his full recovery which never came. In this historic footage, Ted reveals his candid thoughts on hitting, Red Sox fans, Fenway Park, his controversial relationship with the press, and much more. The Lost Interview of the Great Ted Williams is an uncensored, intimate look at the mind of the greatest hitter of all time. The video is 30 minutes long and contains adult language.
After the jump you will find some great quotes and stories directly from the film (please note that some quotes do contain explicit language in the DVD, and subsequently, in this review as well). So what are you waiting for? Click to continue reading!
Theodore Samuel Williams, better known as Ted, spent all nineteen of his seasons in the major leagues as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Although Williams was known by a slew of nicknames including 'Splendid Splinter,' 'Teddy Ballgame,' and 'The Thumper,' he is universally referred to simply as one of the greatest hitters of all-time.
His accomplishments on the field include (but are not limited to) two MVP Awards, six batting titles, 521 career home runs, and a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction (93.38% of the votes; 1966). Williams' career batting average of .344 is the highest amongst players with 500 or more home runs -- a true testament to his overall ability as a hitter.
Williams' best single-season performance came circa 1941. With 37 home runs, 120 RBI, and 135 runs scored, the Red Sox's left-fielder began cementing his legacy as one of the greatest hitters of all-time (at the age of 22, nonetheless). His .551 on-base percentage set a record that would stand for over 60 years. In that same season, the 'Splendid Splinter' became the last player in Major League Baseball history to hit .400 over the course of an entire season (.406).
'Teddy' was known as a prideful man; the best example of this coming in correlation to his immaculate 1941 season. Williams entered the final day of the season with a batting average of .39955, which would have been rounded up to .400 had he chose to sit the bench and rest during the day's double-header; a decision left up to him by then manager Joe Cronin. With the feat already in hand and at the risk of falling short of such a remarkable milestone, Williams opted to play both games of the double-header saying, "If I can't hit .400 all the way, I don't deserve it." Fall short he did not, instead totaling six hits on the day, raising his final average to .406.
The Lost Interview of The Great Ted Williams offers an intimate portrait of one of the game's most interesting and iconic figures.
This exclusive interview, conducted by close-friend Bob Lobel, is special for several reasons; most notably due to Williams' oft-described cantankerous relationship with the Boston media and fans. In fact, there is a great quote from Ted in this particular film in regards to his feelings towards sports writers. While he starts by acknowledging the importance of journalists to the game of baseball, he doesn't miss a chance to jab at the profession either:
"You're gonna meet some guys that don't know sh*t [with extra emphasis being placed on the expletive in particular] about baseball that are writing about it; and that bothers you a little bit, ya know? Jesus."
The casual conversation captured on film between Williams and Lobel takes place in the right field seats of Fenway Park -- with Ted sitting directly next to the infamous lone red seat amongst the sea of green.
After a short foreword by Lobel, the film begins with Williams discussing the difficulties of manning the outfield of Fenway Park, the pride he had regarding his often-overlooked defensive abilities, and his admiration for the rival New York Yankees during his career. There is a very emotion-evoking moment during this particular discussion in which Williams stops mid-sentence to look towards the sky as an airplane flies overhead, silently pausing for a substantial amount of time as the film cuts to a photograph of Ted during his time as a Marine Corps pilot.
Williams begins to show the mixture of confidence and modesty in his personality as the dialogue turns to his 1946 home run that is still noted as the longest in Fenway's history (thus the significance of the lone red seat). The home run off of Detroit's Fred Hutchinson was measured at 502 feet, landing in row 37 of section 42 (seat 21). According to Red Sox lore, the ball crashed through the straw hat of the seat's occupant. The first thing that Williams mentions at the onset of this subject is his self-condemnation for the way he reacted as he "clapped his hands and galloped" (Williams' words) around the bases following the infamous blast, citing his admiration for other great hitters' conservative attitudes in similar situations.
Williams goes on to discuss how Fenway's right field bleachers were moved in shortening the distance to the seats creating expectations of him to break the single-season home run record (then held by former Red Sox Babe Ruth), and how this incident subsequently incited his well-documented reservation with respect to the media as well as fans.
"...every time I hit a home run -- I was in right field -- when I'd come out, here's a young kid just starting to go, and I'd tip my- raise my hat just like that [as he physically raises his cap]. And then I got to the point where I was sour at the f*cking world and getting a lot of sh*t written about me and then I kinda got into a little cocoon...and I didn't uh- I just said I'd never tip my hat again..."
Williams' scrutiny of the fickle nature of fans that he experienced during his time in baseball and how it fed his timidity towards them is very transparent in this film. His distain for a fan's tendency to boo a player for booting a ground ball one moment only to applaud his home run the next was a specific citation offered by the superlatively-straightforward interviewee.
The film closes with Bob Lobel using his reflection of the interview as a mnemonic device in helping aid his memory of the last interaction that he had with the late Ted Williams -- providing a very visceral view of the event amidst his increasingly-indubitable idolatry of the icon.
Overall, this film offers an unmitigated look at one of the most fascinating figures in the history of American sports. For Red Sox fans and non-fans alike, the invitation to this intrinsically-in-depth conversation between Williams and Lobel offered via The Lost Interview of The Great Ted Williams is a truly gratifying experience.
The only vexatious facet of this film is in its unambiguous ability to leave you wanting more.