Ted Williams could hit just about anything you threw in the batter's box. Fastballs, curveballs, changeups -- it rarely mattered. As it turns out, that rule even applied to the unusual eephus pitch, something Williams proved at the 1946 All-Star Game.
The Midsummer Classic that year at Fenway Park was a welcome respite for baseball. The most famous players had been away during World War II, and in fact, they had to cancel the 1945 All-Star Game due to travel restrictions. Now that the fighting was done, everyone was back, and that included the man they called "Teddy Ballgame."
By the eighth inning, the game was a rout, as homers by Williams and the Yankees' Charlie Keller had helped the American League build a 9-0 lead. So, to have some fun, National League manager Charlie Grimm called upon Pirates pitcher Rip Sewell, who was in his third All-Star Game thanks to his not-so-secret weapon -- the eephus pitch:
That was Williams taking an eephus from Sewell. Its trajectory made it nearly impossible to hit. In fact, no one had ever taken Sewell deep on his "blooper pitch."
However, Williams wasn't hailed as "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived" for nothing:
Fellow Hall of Famer Bill Dickey had advised Williams to take a couple hops in order to generate some power, and that's just what he did.
"It was amazing how high Sewell threw it up in the air," teammate Bobby Doerr later said. "It was nothing you ever saw, and it came straight down on you. But I guess if anyone would hit it out, it would be Ted."
Years later, Alex Rodriguez pulled off his own Williams act by homering against an eephus-like pitch. On Aug. 26, 2002, A-Rod took one high, slow curve from Orlando Hernandez, but he wouldn't let "El Duque" fool him again:
Not bad, A-Rod. Williams would be proud.