Home Box Office once again has come through with an excellent sports documentary, this one about Ted Williams.
The HBO program, which debuted this week, goes deep into Williams’ years as a fighter pilot, his contentious relationship with the Boston media and the final controversy over his death in 2002 — the bizarre freezing of his head and body in an Arizona laboratory.
There are interviews with his daughter Claudia. His son, John Henry, died in 2004. But there are no interviews with Ted’s oldest daughter, Bobby Jo Williams Ferrell, who fought the other two children in court over the freezing of her father’s remains, arguing a will had shown their father wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread in the water in the Florida Keys, where Williams fished for many years.
I had the chance to interview Bobby Jo a few years ago for a project that never materialized. Here are excerpts from those conversations:
Staying with Ted in a hotel in Boston: “Being a kid, staying at the (Somerst) hotel was great. Everybody there watched out for me. They all knew who I was. Daddy knew everybody there by their first name….we almost always had room service, except when we went out to a restaurant. The hotel repairman came to the hotel a lot. Daddywould destroy telephones, sometimes three times a week, when he would get mad. It seemed like the telephone repairman was always there.”
Ted’s generousity: “I got to see my Dad when no one else saw hin and what kind of human being he was. I got to see how he treated people and how he was with them. This one night we were walking home and there was a blind man sitting near a store front. Daddy walked up to him and began talking to him. He said to the man, ‘I’m going to put some money in your han now. Don’t get excited. I just want to tell you how much it is so no one tries to rob you.’ He didn’t want anyone to try to tell the man it was a $5 bill. It was a $100 bill. This was a long time ago, and that was a lot of money. He was very spontaneous when it came to helping people, or with anything, for that matter.”
Ted at Fenway Park: “He took me inside the Green Monster a few times. Daddy became good friends with the scoreboard operator inside the Green Monster. They would talk during games. One time this guy left the park to get Ted an ice cream during a game.”
Ted’s clothes: “My father had about 100 of those floral Hawaiian shirts. He wouldn’t shop much for himself, but when he found something he liked he would buy a lot of it. He wore khaki pants, and when he found a brand he really liked, he would order 36 of them, exactly alike. He would do the same thing with white Ban Lon shirts. He wore two shoe sizes. One foot was almost a larger size than the other. He would wear shoes until they fell off him. If you didn’t know him and saw him on the street with his shoes sometimes, you would feel like giving him $20 for a new pair of shoes. I think the right one was a size 13 and the left one a size 12. I don’t know what he would do with the other shoes he would have to buy in a pair.”
I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM Washington and espn980.com on Tuesday, July 21, from 4 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com