TED WILLIAMS, HBO SPORTS DOCUMENTARY ABOUT
THE BOSTON RED SOX ICON, DEBUTS JULY 15, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
HBO Sports, which has produced compelling portraits of baseball legends Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, explores the life of one of baseball’s most enduring icons when TED WILLIAMS debuts WEDNESDAY, JULY 15 (9:30-10:45 p.m. ET/PT) , exclusively on HBO. Marking the 70th anniversary of Red Sox slugger’s rookie season, the special debuts the day after the All-Star Game.
Larger than life, “Williams was the real – as opposed to reel – John Wayne,” observed USA Today in 2002, shortly after his death. Born in 1918 in San Diego, he was a latchkey child from a broken home, raised by a mother more dedicated to the Salvation Army than to her two sons, and by a father who spent more time away from home than in it. Williams found salvation by doing the one thing he loved most: hitting baseballs. In his rookie season with the Red Sox, where he would spend his entire career as a player, Williams batted .327, socked 31 homers and led the league with 145 RBI.
Over the next 21 years, despite losing five seasons of his prime to active service as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot in World War II and the Korean War, Williams hit 521 home runs, twice captured the Triple Crown, and became the oldest man ever to win a batting title. He finished his career with a .344 lifetime batting average, was the last man to hit over .400 in a full season, batting .406 in 1941, and was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Today, 49 years after hitting a home run in his final at-bat, “Teddy Ballgame” is still regarded as the greatest pure hitter in baseball history.
Williams was the ultimate man’s man, a tireless fundraiser, expert fisherman and all-around outdoorsman extraordinaire. But his professional and military achievements were countered by personal failure. Married and divorced three times, Williams was often absent as a husband and father to his three children. His final years were marked by ill health; following his death, the decision to have his body preserved in a cryonics facility inspired public disputes among his family and friends, sparking controversy and ridicule.
Among those interviewed for the special are: former President George H.W. Bush; baseball vets Jerry Coleman, Bobby Doerr, Bob Feller, Pumpsie Green, Tony Gwynn and Johnny Pesky; writers Richard Ben Cramer, Leigh Montville, Dan Shaughnessy and John Underwood; sportscaster Joe Buck; actor Robert Redford; daughter Claudia Williams; and namesake Ted Williams, the slugger’s nephew.
HBO Sports’ documentary division has captured seven Peabody Awards and 28 Sports Emmy® Awards.
The executive producers of TED WILLIAMS are Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein; producer, Margaret Grossi; interviewer and story editor, Mary Carillo; writer, Aaron Cohen; narrator, Liev Schreiber; editor, Andy Morreale; music composed by Gary Lionelli.
Robert Redford: “[‘The Natural’] was an homage to someone I had respected and idolized much of my life. And it was a chance to really bring that to a close…I wanted him to come on the set so I could just shake his hand, but he was too busy fishing [laughs].”
Writer Leigh Montville: “I think he qualifies as an American hero because he was an individualist. He was strong and opinionated. And he was John Wayne. Ted was the ultimate man’s man. I don’t know if that’s all a good thing in modern society. But he was.”
Writer Richard Ben Cramer: “He was a force. And there was a force that boiled up from him. Some took it kindly and thought him a god. Some took it ill and thought, ‘What makes this guy think he’s so great?’ But nobody could miss it.”