by Ted Williams and John Underwood
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If I can help somebody, fine. That's the whole idea. I feel in my heart that nobody in this game ever devoted more concentration to the batter's box than Theodore Samuel Williams, a guy who practiced until the blisters bled, and loved doing it, and got more delight out of examining by conversation and observation the art of hitting the ball. If that does not qualify me, nothing will.
I have to admit to a pride in the results we got with the Senators my first year. The fun I had was seeing them improve and realizing they could win, and some of them did make dramatic turnarounds. Eddie Brinkman, who I knew from the beginning was a better hitter than his record indicated, jumped from .187 to .266. Del Unser went from .280 to .286, Hank Allen .219 to .278, Ken McMullen, .248 to .272. Frank Howard hit .296 and Mike Epstein .278, the best years they ever had in the big leagues. That was tremendous satisfaction to me.
If there is such a thing as a science in sport, hitting a baseball is it. As with any science, there are fundamentals, certain tenets of hitting every good batter or batting coach could tell you. But it is not an exact science. Much of it has been poorly defined, or not defined at all, and some things have been told wrong for years.
The consequence is a collection of mistaken ideas that batters parrot around. I know because I'm as guilty as the next guy.
The "level swing," for example, has always been advocated. I used to believe it, and I used to say the same thing. But the ideal swing is not level, and it's not down, and I'll tell you why as we get to it. I'll also tell you why wrist "snap" is overrated -- and how wrong you are if you think you hit the ball with rolling wrists (as in golf). And I'll also tell you why left-handed pull hitter T. S. Williams does not think a pulled ball is something to strive for, and why he may have been a better left-hand hitter if he had not been a natural right-hander.
Copyright © 1970, 1971, 1986 by Ted Williams and John Underwood. Excerpted with permission.