Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

#TBT: On May 22, 1942 Ted Williams joins the U.S. Navy

United States Marine Corps

On May 21, 1942 Ted Williams went 3-for-5 with a HR and 4 RBIs in an 8-3 Red Sox win over Cleveland. The next day, he became a member of the U.S. Navy. Seventy-two years ago today, Ted Williams voluntarily chose to enlist in the Navy reserves. In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States had entered WWII, but Williams received a draft deferment because his mother was dependent on him.

Williams was sworn in on May 22nd, but finished out the season, batting .356 and driving in 138 runs, leading the league in both those categories as well as R, HR, BB, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, TB, and WAR. He finished second in MVP voting to Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon, who fell short of Williams' marks in pretty much every category but stolen bases (Gordon swiped 12 bags, Williams stole 3). 

The future Hall of Famer was called to active duty in November of that year. Though he never saw combat, he missed the next three baseball seasons learning to fly and doing so pretty well.

Ted Williams Pilot

His military service wasn't behind him, however, as Williams was largely revered as a hero for his contributions during the Korean War, where he served as a member of the First Marine Air Wing.