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Teddy Ballgame

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis /
August 19, 2003

It's my contention that it is much easier to bring a frozen corpse back to life if you don't surgically decapitate it. Unfortunately, in the case of baseball immortal Ted Williams, the simple precaution of keeping head and body together during cryogenic interment was not taken, and because of this, Williams' hopes for resurrection have been all but irremediably dashed.

Before I get into the macabre details surrounding the disposition of Ted Williams' earthly remains, let me pass along a story that goes to the point of his legendary status as a hitter. Former New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra — like Williams a Hall-of-Famer — recalls Williams' first at-bat against the Yankees during his (Berra's) rookie season. The first pitch to Williams was just outside. When the umpire called it a ball, Berra complained: "Ump, you gotta give me that pitch. That pitch was in there!" The second pitch, also called a ball, was by Berra's account even closer. "Come on, ump, I gotta have that pitch," Berra protested. The third pitch was also slightly outside, but this time Berra said nothing.

Williams hit the next pitch out of the park. After Williams had circled the bases, the umpire, as he was bending over to sweep off home plate before the next batter came up, looked at Berra and said, "Mr. Berra, Mr. Williams will let you know when a pitch is a strike."

Unfortunately, such wonderful stories about Williams' uncanny prowess as a hitter have given way to discussion of his beheading and cryogenic interment at the behest of his son, John Henry. Thus this article's focus on the implications for being brought back to life of having your head cut off.

The logic on which I base my conclusion about the difficulty of same goes something like this: As tough as it must have been for surgeons to reattach John Wayne Bobbitt's penis after his then-wife Lorena had cut it off, it is orders of magnitude more difficult to surgically reattach a human head, given that (although I know this is not widely accepted by many women, especially feminists) a lot more thinking is done with the brain than with the penis, and that thinking requires much greater and more complex nervous system involvement than does the function for which the penis is nonetheless so admirably designed.

A brief recap is in order. After Ted Williams' death, his son brought forth a stained and wrinkled piece of paper, ostensibly signed by his father, his sister, and himself, which asserted that Ted Williams, in contravention of his will, wanted to have his body frozen on the off chance that the family might be reunited at some undisclosed future date. A judge granted primacy to the handwritten note over the will and decreed that Williams' body should be cryogenically interred, which order was carried out by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation of Arizona, although not before they cut off Williams' head, drilled holes in it, and generally treated it with a lack of respect that rises to the level of criminal negligence.

While many have focused (with good cause) on the role played by John Henry Williams in the sordid mess that has surrounded the seemingly straightforward matter of getting a baseball great's ashes scattered over the waters of the Florida Keys — where the elder Williams pursued bonefishing, the second of his lifelong passions (the first being knocking the hell out of a baseball), and which eventuality Williams specified as the desired outcome in his will — I think it's time we took a closer look at the court system that has allowed this gross travesty of human decency to go forward.

Notwithstanding John Henry Williams' perverse notion of what it means to be a son and Williams pere's own shortcomings with regard to his paternal duties and responsibilities, someone needed to step in and say to the younger Williams, "What the hell do you mean you want to have his remains cryogenically interred so you can meet at some unspecified future date? For starters, given your somewhat strained relations with your father during his lifetime, what proof can you present that he desired such an outcome? And what the hell kind of a shuck are you trying to pull on this court by presenting as evidence of this desire on his account a blatant forgery perpetrated after your father was, by all accounts, incapable of reasoned judgment?"

Because, you see, the signature on the document on which John Henry Williams' case rests reads "Ted Williams." Now, Ted Williams signed baseballs and programs and tee-shirts and bats and all manner of memorabilia as "Ted Williams," but when he signed legal documents, he invariably did so as "Theodore S. Williams." This in itself should have given the presiding magistrate pause. Either Teddy Ballgame signed his name as if he were endorsing something that had no legal significance, or his son forged his name, not realizing that by writing "Ted Williams" he was undermining the credibility of the document.

How is it that the legitimacy of Ted Williams' signature was not questioned by the court? How is it that something to which any attorney involved in legitimate legal dealings with the elder Williams could have readily testified — that he (Williams) always signed legal documents with his formal name — never seems to have been brought up in court, or, if it was, that it managed to get ignored?

There's no question that, in the eyes of most of the liberal activists on the bench today, the fact that Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams was a baseball legend (the last man to hit over .400) and that he served his country honorably as a fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War would have prejudiced said judges against Williams. What whining leftist magistrate could not be persuaded to overlook a small matter like forgery if it meant that an American hero's image would be forever besmirched?

The fact remains, as far as I'm concerned, that a judicial system not largely populated by misguided liberal activist judges hell-bent on perpetuating a leftist agenda — among whose purposes is certainly the righting of perceived psychic and political wrongs perpetrated by those who exemplify the culture of the competitive, "war-mongering" white American male (and Ted Williams was, if nothing else, a competitive, "war-mongering" white American male) — would have dismissed out of hand John Henry Williams' patently phony documentary claim that his legendary father somehow bought into the notion that science was going to resurrect him to endure yet another encounter with his whining, scamming spawn. Whatever faults Ted Williams may have had, letting himself be suckered by folks who weren't worthy to carry his jockstrap was not one of them.

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