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On This Date in December 7, 1937

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The Boston Red Sox purchased the contract of Ted Williams from the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League for $35,000. At the age of 19, Williams was already showing signs of being a star hitter in two seasons with the Padres. Williams would make his major league debut with the Red Sox in 1939, leading the league with 145 RBI, launching a Hall of Fame career.

In a day when quick cross-country travel was not readily available and the major league teams were all east of the Mississippi, the Pacific Coast League emerged as the strongest minor league in baseball. With most teams operating independently, teams in the PCL were able to scout and sign stars creating a showcase for the big teams on the East Coast. A few years, earlier the New York Yankees purchased Joe DiMaggio from the San Francisco Seals. Looking for their own star the Red Sox landed Ted Williams who helped take the San Diego Padres to the league championship in just their second season.

Ted Williams would spend one more season developing in the minors, with the Red Sox affiliate in Minneapolis before making his debut in 1939. Williams had one of the greatest seasons, ever produced by a rookie that season, leading the American League with 145 RBI while batting .327 with 31 home runs. The Splendid Splinter as he would be called quickly became one of baseball’s best hitters, as he became the last batter to top .400, with a .406 average in 1941, also leading the league in home runs with 37. In 1942 Ted Williams won the Triple Crown with a .356 average, 36 home runs, and 137 RBI before departing for military service.

After serving three years as Naval Fighter Pilot, Ted Williams returned to the Red Sox in 1946, and took Boston to their first World Series in 28 years, losing a seven-game heartbreaker to the St. Louis Cardinals. Williams won a second Triple Crown in 1947, batting .343 with 32 home runs and 114 RBI, but Ted Williams would never again play in a World Series as the Red Sox never had the talent around him to make a significant challenge for the New York Yankees dynasty. Ted Williams career ended in 1960, with a home run in his final at-bat at Fenway Park. He retired with a .344 average, 521 home runs and 1,839 RBI. His .482 on-base percentage is the greatest of all-time, as he is regarded by many as the best pure hitter who ever played the game.