Mock photo of Ted Williams's preserved head
A former executive of the Scottsdale cryonics company where baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams’s body is frozen launched a pay-per-view website with gruesome decapitation photos to raise money for his legal defense.
“To be honest with you,” Johnson said Wednesday, “I fear for my life. The people at Alcor are whacked. They’re unstable and dangerous, all of them. They’re a cult. Fanatics.”
The foregoing was published August 14, 2003, in USA Today. The speaker is former Alcor interim chief operating officer Larry Johnson.
Not a lot has changed in six years. Same guy, same charges, same fear for his life, same ghoulish head, same pictures on the internet. What’s new is the packaging, courtesy of Vanguard Press.
Typically, a news story rises from the information slipstream, joins human flotsam for a day, two days, maybe a week, and then slips back into the info bog. The first round of news reports are often inaccurate, so are later news reports, but usually not to the same degree. Which is a long intro to Ted Williams’s head. Second-wave coverage repeated the original story but took on a jolly tone:
FanHouse.com: Ted Williams’s Frozen Head Used for Batting Practice.
Boston Herald: Author Frozen by Fear Over Alleged Ted Williams Head Hit.
Chicago Sun-Times: Fox Sports Employs Ted Williams’s Frozen Head to Predict the Playoffs.
Ted Williams is a grisly, macabre joke. He was a man once.
Theodore Samuel Williams was born in San Diego. Mom worked for the Salvation Army, dad was an alcoholic, younger brother earned his way into jail after stealing household furniture. Problem was, it was his family’s household furniture, taken from his parents’ house. Mom dropped the dime. Mr. and Mrs. Williams were divorced in 1939.
There were 68,000 people living in San Diego at the time of Ted’s birth. He attended Herbert Hoover High School, helped his team win a state championship, and signed with the local minor-league franchise (San Diego Padres). It was 1936, and Williams was 17 years old.
His first major-league game occurred on April 20, 1939. He played for the Boston Red Sox. His last game was on September 28, 1960. He played for the same team. Williams batted .406 in 1941, the last guy to break .400. He won too many awards to cite here, had a 19-year major-league career followed by a 4-year managing career.
As the country entered the Second World War, Williams had a 3-A deferment (marriage and sole support of his mother). He was reclassified 1-A, appealed, lost on appeal, then saw the verdict overturned by the White House. In the process, he lost the good will of many, including his largest sponsor, Quaker Oats.
He enlisted into the Navy on May 22, 1942. Williams spent the war in school. He received preflight training, primary training, advanced flight training, and was commissioned in the Marine Corps in May, 1944. Then, posted to Pensacola as a flight instructor, wound up in Hawaii on his way to the war when it ended. Released from active duty January of 1946.
He sounds like a regular human being.
Wasn’t eager to go to war, used what influence he had to avoid being drafted, but when things didn’t go his way, took his place without complaint. He could have spent the war playing baseball for the Navy but didn’t.
But, he got his war. Ted was recalled to active duty in 1952, at the age of 34, and flew 39 combat missions in Korea. He never forgot where he came from, was loyal to his friends, kept some early San Diego friendships going all his life.
Leigh Montville, author of Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero, wrote, “Williams was also one of the greater champions in profanity. The Lord above, the crudest Anglo-Saxon words for male and (especially) female anatomical parts, sodomic acts — all were included in long but connected swearing diatribes, more often than not peppered by the adjective ‘syphilitic.’”
He was married three times. Wife 1, Doris Soule, was the daughter of his hunting guide. Wife two, Lee Howard, was a model. Wife 3, was Miss Vermont, Dolores Wettach. His big love appears to be Louise Kaufman. They lived together for 20 years. She died in 1993.
Ted Williams had two daughters, both estranged, and one son, John Henry, who seems to be disliked by all who knew him. He was a great fisherman, a good friend, and anonymous benefactor. He came from one dysfunctional family and fathered another. When he was old and weak, he allowed his predatory son to take over his life. He was a great, great baseball player, and for 95 percent of his time on earth lived a normal, dysfunctional life. He doesn’t deserve this.