Friday, March 05, 2010
More old Red Sox: Ted Williams talksPosted by Joe Distelheim
Or rather, talked, for 25 minutes, to longtime Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel in the empty Fenway Park stands on a sunny September day in 1997.
For reasons not explained, Lobel put the tape of the interview away for 13 years. Now, a year or so after he lost his anchor job, eight years after Williams' death, Lobel's marketing the conversation on a DVD called "The Lost Interview of The Great Ted Williams."
This day when we're publishing Steve Treder's insightful review of a new biography of former Red Sox star Joe Cronin seemed like an appropriate time to tell you about the Williams video.
Lobel and the distributor, DK Productions, bill it big: "#9 decided to finally tell the world his story." Not quite. There's no new information here. What we get, though, is a rather sad look at a once-splendid athlete turned 79-year-old man.
What you hear is familiar Ted Wlliams. He complains about the press, he whines about being booed, he justifies being surly ("I got into a little cocoon"), he boasts about his defensive prowess, he uses a few naughty words as adjectives. There's nothing remarkable about his answers to Lobel's softball questions ("Tell about that All-Star Game home run"). What you come away remembering, though, is less what he says but how he looks.
This is no polished studio interview. Williams squints for long stretches and rubs his eyes, chews his fingernails and renders alarmingly deep coughs. At one point he pauses mid-answer to look up as we hear the sound of an airplane overhead. The tape briefly flashes a still of Williams as a Marine Corps fighter pilot. Williams seems clearly less interested than Lobel in the conversation.
The DVD is 25 bucks: NEW! The Lost Interview of the Great Ted Williams
Joe Distelheim is chief copy editor for The Hardball Times website. He welcomes comments and suggestions via e-mail.