Ted Williams memorabilia to be auctioned in Boston

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 25, 2012

12 Jul 1999: Ted Williams the Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer throws out the first pitch as he stands next to Tony Gwynn of the National League Team is in action during the 1999 MLB All-Star Game against the American League Team at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The American League Team defeated the National League Team 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport
He was a skilled fisherman, a veteran of two wars and an accomplished hunter. Oh, and Ted Williams also played baseball. Fans seeking to buy items once owned by the legendary Red Sox slugger are set to flock to Boston's Fenway Park beginning Wednesday for a preview of the first major auction of sports, military and personal memorabilia documenting Williams' life. The preview, open to the public, is set to last through Friday at the world's oldest baseball park and home field of the only team that Williams played for during his 1939-1960 major league career. The auction will be Saturday and some of the proceeds will benefit The Jimmy Fund, a charity affiliated with Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for which the slugger helped raise money during his lifetime. Williams, the last major league hitter to bat .400 - posting a .406 average in 1941 - enjoyed a diverse life, including as a U.S. Marine in World War II and the Korean War, a member of the fishing hall of fame and a skilled and accomplished hunter. He flew 39 combat missions in Korea and took enemy fire three times, including during an incident that forced him to land his stricken jet on its belly. ''There're not many elements of his life that did not exude the same excellence as he did on the baseball field,'' said David Hunt, whose firm, Hunt Auctions Inc., is selling the memorabilia on behalf of Williams' daughter, Claudia Williams of Hernando, Fla. ''And that is really unique ... He's sort of like the John Wayne of baseball and sports of that time period and I think that's evidenced by all these artifacts that documents his life.'' Among the nearly 800 items up for auction is a baseball in pristine condition that Babe Ruth autographed for Williams with the inscription ''To my pal Ted Williams, From Babe Ruth.'' That unique ball is expected to go for between $100,000 and $200,000, Hunt told The Associated Press. Others items include Williams' 1949 American League Most Valuable Player award that is valued between $150,000 and $250,000, a silver bat for winning the American League batting championship in 1957 - valued between $100,000 and $200,000 - as well as bats and jerseys that the slugger used, Hunt said as workers unpacked the memorabilia for display at a luxury suite at Fenway Park. ''These objects really just chronicle this man's life and, I think, show how great he was, not just as a baseball player,'' Hunt said. Claudia Williams did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision to sell the memorabilia. Hunt, however, said the auction caps a process that began nearly six years ago when his firm did some appraisals for her. Williams' daughter, Hunt said, had discussed selling some of the items with her father and brother who both supported the idea. That occurred before Williams died in 2002, followed by his son in 2004. The 10-year anniversary of Williams' death at age 83 and Fenway Park's ongoing 100th anniversary celebrations provided an ideal timing for the auction, Hunt said. ''Claudia kept things that are important to her, donated things to museums ... Why not do this in celebration of his life, benefit the charity that he loved and make it a positive thing for everybody,'' Hunt said. --- Rodrique Ngowi can be reached at www.twitter.com/ngowi
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