Ex-teammate says Williams was great hitter, great person
Floyd Baker lived in the same apartment complex in Boston.
By ROB TODOR
VINDICATOR SPORTS EDITOR
Youngstown's Floyd Baker, who played with the Boston Red Sox in 1953-54, says he considers having Ted Williams as a teammate "one of the biggest enjoyments of my career."
Baker, 85, played in the majors for five teams from 1943-55, including 101 games with the Red Sox.
In 1953, Williams returned from serving as a Marine pilot in the Korean conflict; in 37 games he batted .407 and hit 13 home runs. The following year, Williams hit .345 with 29 homers in 117 games.
But, for Baker, his favorite memories of The Splendid Splinter came off the field.
"If he liked you, there was nothing in the world he wouldn't do for you," said Baker on Friday.
Baker recounted an episode during the All-Star break in 1954.
"Williams had just bought a new car, a convertible Ford. Before he left to go to the All-Star Game, he handed me the keys and told me to take my wife on a mini-vacation during the break."
During their time together with the Red Sox, Baker and Williams lived in the same apartment complex in Boston. Often, they would go out for dinner or take in a show.
"That was a problem, though, because he was so well known," said Baker. "So I would have to purchase two tickets and he would go into the restaurant or the theater the back way."
Baker said Williams enjoyed war movies. "One of his favorites was 'Wing and a Prayer' because it was about Marine pilots."
Baker said Williams was a perfectionist.
"He had to be perfect about everything he went at, especially hitting and fishing," he recounted. "He never took anything for granted."
Williams' love of fishing was well-documented.
"One time he invited me to go out fishing with him on a lake around Boston," Baker said.
"We left about 4 or 5 in the morning, which I wasn't used to, and you know, I was used to the old Southern style of fishing" -- Baker was born in Luray, Va. -- "where you sit under a tree, put the pole in and take a nap.
"Well, that wasn't the way Ted fished. You had to row the boat out into the middle of the lake, and you had to row it just so. And when we got to the spot you couldn't make a noise or he would get angry."
Laughing, Baker said, "I never had a more miserable time."
A life-long Youngstown resident, William "Dibby" D'Angelo, has always been a Red Sox fan and in particular, a Ted Williams fan. Which wasn't always easy, considering he grew up in a neighborhood where everyone else cheered the Yankees and Joe DiMaggio.
"If you weren't a Joe D. fan it could get a little rough," recounted D'Angelo.
"I'm his age, I was born in 1918, the same year he was born," he added.
D'Angelo often went to Cleveland Stadium when the Indians played host to Williams and the Red Sox.
"He was not only the greatest hitter, but a wonderful person," said D'Angelo. "His [home run] blasts weren't cheap.
"He was a great hitter, the most masterful I think there was."