Hitting Coach: Would You Teach Joe D's Swing Or Ted Williams'?

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IMarch 6, 2009

Ted Williams was the greatest hitter in the history of baseball.

I won't argue that.

He was the last man to hit .400 for a season in 1941.

He almost hit .400 again when he was 40 years old.

Two nights ago, I watched "The Golden Age of Baseball" and they showed some beautiful footage of Ted Williams at the plate.

And they showed Joe Dimaggio's hitting style as well.

They analyzed the strokes of the two greatest hitters of their era.

Dimaggio stood stock still at the plate with his feet wide apart. He took a very short stride.

Joe held his bat high and steady, his arms well away from his body.

His stroke was on a level plane that sent line drives to all fields.

Ted on the other hand could not stand still in the batter's box.

Jerry Coleman, former Yankee infielder in the 1950s, called Williams "a wiggler."

And Ted held his hands very low and close to his body. He had a tremendous hitch in his swing as he brought his hands into the hitting position.

And as he strode his hands were dipping, his shoulders sometimes dropped on a vertical plane as well as rotating on a horizontal plane.

And he had a looping swing, not a level swing, utilizing an uppercut.

No hitting coach, whether in the majors or in Little League, would ever teach a hitter to swing the way Ted Williams did.

It is probably a good thing for Ted that he didn't have the "advantage" of all the youth coaches that kids are saddled with now.

And he probably never had a hitting coach in the major leagues.

Ted Williams had extraordinary eyesight. He had extraordinary reflexes. He had extraordinary reaction time. He had extraordinary eye-hand coordination.

Ted Williams studied the art of hitting as perhaps no other hitter every has.

He studied pitchers.

He is reported to have been able to remember the count, the number of men on base, the inning and the kind of pitch that was thrown to him for every home run he ever hit.

Again, you will get no argument from me that Ted Williams was the greatest hitter who ever played this great game.

But if you were a hitting coach, you would instruct a player to model himself after Joe D and not after Teddy Ballgame.