Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams was known for his prowess at the plate. But his skill set extended well beyond baseball. The accomplished pilot missed much of the 1952 and 1953 seasons so he could fly combat missions during the Korean War. He was also fantastic with a rod and reel. Author Richard Ben Cramer, whose 1986 Esquire story “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” remains one of the best pieces ever written about the Splendid Splinter, best captured Williams’s legendary persona:
Few men try for best ever, and Ted Williams is one of those. There’s a story about him I think of now. This is not about baseball but fishing. He meant to be the best there, too. One day he says to a Boston writer: “Ain’t no one in heaven or earth ever knew more about fishing.”
“Sure there is,” says the scribe.
“Oh, yeah? Who?”
“Well, God made the fish.”
“Yeah, awright,” Ted says. “But you have to go pretty far back.”
Amelia Earhart (1897–1937) returned to the news last week when new analysis of a photograph taken soon after her plane mysteriously disappeared in 1937 seemed to reveal that the pioneering aviator crashed in the Pacific Ocean off the island of Nikumaroro in the nation of Kiribati. The U.S. Department of State plans to travel to the island in July to search for the wreckage.
Earhart disappeared in the Pacific on July 2, 1937, while attempting to fly around the world. She had already achieved many “firsts” as a female pilot. In 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and across the continental United States. (Jack Northrop designed her beloved Vega, a sleek wooden monoplane that launched the Lockheed company on its path to success. Earhart later flew a Lockheed Electra.) For her trans-Atlantic flight, Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross. Three years later she became the first woman to fly across the Pacific from Hawaii to California.
In addition to her aviation career, Earhart also served as a nurse during World War I and as a women’s career counselor at Purdue University in the mid-1930s. Her achievements were inspiring not only to women but to all of America struggling through the Depression.