The Story Behind the "Ted Williams Photo"
On April 14, 1939, a brash young ballplayer stepped into
the Fitton Field batter’s box—and a legend was
born. On that day, about 5,000 fans braved frigid weather
to see the annual Red Sox-Holy Cross exhibition game before
the start of the regular season.
The Holy Cross crowd also came to get their first glimpse
of a 22-year-old rookie named Ted Williams.
In a 1994 interview with Worcester Telegram columnist
John Gearan ’65, a 76-year-old Williams recalled, “We
played Yale the day before in New Haven. Then we played Holy
Cross in an exhibition, and I got my first homer.”
In his first time at bat in Massachusetts, Williams hit
Holy Cross pitcher Mike Klarnick’s shoulder-high fastball
for a grand slam home run. Williams smashed a scorching line
drive over the head of Henry Ouellette in deepest center
field that rolled all the way onto the football field. Williams
knocked in Joe Cronin, Jimmy Foxx and Jim Tabor.
Williams later singled in another run; during the game he
dropped Joe Delaney’s fly ball to right field after
a long run. The Red Sox routed Holy Cross 14-2 that day.
In this photo, taken in the first inning just before Williams
blasted his home run, the spires of O’Kane Hall are
clearly visible. Catching for Holy Cross is Dave Barry, and
the umpire is George Pipgras, a former Red Sox and Yankees
Catching for the Red Sox that day was Gene Desautels, a
Worcester native and former Holy Cross great, who played
13 years in the majors.