The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the National Baseball Hall of Fame will make stops in Bergen and Rockland counties during September as Emerson resident Rick Feingold will present "Ted Williams-When America Was at War."
Feingold will be at the Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library at 3 p.m. Monday, the Wyckoff Public Library at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 and the Valley Cottage Library at 7 p.m. Sept. 29.
Feingold, an instructor of American History at Bergen Community College, also made his presentation in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame this summer. He has written about baseball for the Boston Herald and Christian Science Monitor.
Williams, one of baseball’s greatest players, was named the game's "Greatest Living Player" as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Celebration at Fenway Park in 1999. He passed away in 2002. Many consider him the greatest hitter of all time.
The Hall of Fame is celebrating his career on the 75th anniversary of being the last player to hit .400 in a season, when he batted .406 in 1941. His accomplishment at the time was overshadowed by Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, another record that still stands.
Like many ballplayers of the era, Williams was not exempt from military service, and became a U.S. Marine pilot during World War II. He served from 1943-45, missing three full seasons during the peak years of his career. Williams was a combat pilot instructor in Pensacola, Fla. during his service, readying fighter pilots for combat. Among the many flyers who passed through the school while he was there was future President George H.W. Bush.
After a triumphant return to baseball, Williams, still in the Naval Reserves, was called to serve once again, this time as a fighter pilot during the Korean War, where he served with future astronaut John Glenn. Williams missed the majority of the 1952 and 1953 seasons. In all, Williams lost the majority of five seasons during the peak of his career to military service. Not that he complained, as Williams always spoke proudly of his time in the military.
Yet, it opened the debate as to where Williams' final home run totals would have ended up, as he finished with 511 in his career. If Williams' career had not been interrupted, and he had played to his career averages, he most likely would have surpassed Babe Ruth as baseball’s home run king by the time he retired in 1960.