Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, one of the greatest hitters of his generation, heaped praise on one of the greatest hitters of all time in a new PBS documentary.
“Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived,” premiered Monday. Votto has a starring role as the only active player interviewed for the documentary about the last man to hit .400. Williams hit .406 in 1941.
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In one segment, Votto could have been describing himself as he talked about Williams starring for the Boston Red Sox for 19 seasons and appearing in the postseason only once.
The Red Sox lost the 1946 World Series 4-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals. Votto appeared in the postseason three times in his first 11 seasons with the Reds but also played for eight losing teams.
“It is really difficult to be the queen on the chessboard,” Votto said. “Championship teams, they’ve got an arsenal, so nobody feels they’ve got to carry the load. Ted clearly didn’t have that.”
Williams is tied for seventh in baseball history with a .344 career average. He recorded 2,654 hits and 521 home runs despite missing three full seasons while serving in World War II.
Williams and Votto rank among baseball’s best at getting on base. Williams is the all-time leader with a .481 on-base percentage. Votto ranks 12th (.427) and leads all active players.
“I’ll look at his career numbers,” Votto said in the documentary. “He’s just so clearly better than everybody, save Babe Ruth. There’s Babe and then there’s Ted like neck and neck, and then everybody else so far. It’s not even close.”
Here are Votto’s other comments in the film:
On hitting: “You get a ball at your head, 95 to 100 miles per hour, and you’re like, ‘Oh my god this is real,’ but if you want to hit, you’ve got to be all in.”
On Williams: “He represents perfection, greatness, setting out to do something and achieving it. ... It was like he was carved out of stone for hitting specifically. He was made like David, like just for this particular endeavor.”
On “The Science of Hitting,” the book written by Williams in 1970: “The thing that glows for me out of this book and out of him is just the level of intensity and passion. ... You walk to the altar of Ted Williams once you really want to invest yourself in hitting.”
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