Ted Williams: The Sequel
July 9, 2002

by Joe Sobran

     Only in America. No sooner had the eulogies to Ted 
Williams died out than his children were haggling over 
his remains. We've all seen bereaved families interrupt 
the mourning to fight over a legacy, but this is a new 

     I can't vouch that the following story is true. I 
can only say that it's been in the papers and, after 
rubbing my eyes, I conclude that it is either hard fact 
or a gigantic journalistic hoax. I would prefer to 
believe the latter.

     I have always been a Ted Williams fan. He was the 
thinking man's ballplayer par excellence, and his passing 
has afforded my fellow pundits occasion to display their 
intimacy with the awesome statistics that measure his 
supremacy as a hitter.

     For years the aging baseball great, crippled by 
strokes and other infirmities, let his son, John Henry, 
manage his business affairs, chiefly the sale of his 
autographs and baseball artifacts. For the benefit of my 
Hottentot readers, I should explain that athletes' 
autographs are a huge business in America. Given his 
peerless celebrity, Ted Williams could have made a 
fortune just sitting in his wheelchair, signing 

     So lucrative is the autograph business that it has 
spawned a racket in forged autographs. Like an art museum 
authenticating purported works of the Old Masters, 
autograph collectors have to be very wary of clever 

     John Henry, fairly or not, has been accused of 
exploiting the old man for his own gain. Certainly he has 
made his own fortune. And he has made a reputation as a 
tough negotiator, jealously guarding the goods.

     You might think that Ted's passing would be a 
distinct setback for John Henry. It appears not. Where a 
less enterprising young man would see only calamity, John 
Henry appears to have seen new opportunity. He has 
reportedly had Ted's remains frozen in a cryogenics lab 
in Arizona.

     In the normal cryonics process, the body is frozen 
at an extremely low temperature after being drained of 
blood and filled with a preservative solution. The idea 
is to keep it until it can be thawed and revived 
somewhere down the road. But Ted, or what's left of him, 
may face a somewhat different scenario.

     Bobby Jo Ferrell, John Henry's elder half-sister, 
bitterly opposes his project. Her husband charges that 
John Henry wants to freeze Ted's head and sell the DNA in 
the future. Perhaps, with advances in cloning, myriads of 
new Splendid Splinters could be produced in the next 
generation. That would indeed be terrifying news for 

     The Ferrells quote John Henry as saying, "Let's 
freeze Dad!" One seldom hears such a sentiment expressed 
outside science-fiction films. Most of us have never had 
occasion to say it ourselves, even when our fathers were 
at their most annoying.

     If all this is true, it might be fair to say that in 
John Henry Williams the commercial instinct prevails over 
the filial. By a wide margin. He brings to business 
practices some of the same scientific spirit his father 
brought to hitting a baseball. Not that he's getting much 
credit for this. Most of the headlines feature rather 
judgmental words like "ghoulish."

     When Ted bade the game farewell with a mighty home 
run in his final appearance at the plate, little did we 
suspect that he would one day make a comeback, of sorts, 
as the raw material in a Frankenstein story. Or maybe 
baseball's answer to THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL.

     We've long followed the Ted Williams story in the 
sports pages. From now on we may be following it in the 
business section. This story adds new meaning to Yogi 
Berra's famous epigram: "It's not over till it's over."

     At the height of his career, Ted was paid $125,000 
per season. It seemed like a lot of money in those days. 
Today John Henry would laugh such a sum to scorn. Why, 
one of Ted's ears would be worth several times that much!

     On a personal note, I wish my siblings and I had 
realized the profits that might be made auctioning off 
your ancestors' spare parts when we allowed Dad to be 
cremated. We may have unwittingly incinerated a million 
dollars. Live and learn.

     John Henry Williams is a handsome young man with a 
lot of money. He seems to be unmarried. I am confident 
that with any luck at all, he will find a lovely Goneril.


Read this column on-line at 

Copyright (c) 2002 by the Griffin Internet 
Syndicate, www.griffnews.com. This column may not 
be published in print or Internet publications 
without express permission of Griffin Internet 
Syndicate. You may forward it to interested 
individuals if you use this entire page, 
including the following disclaimer:

"SOBRAN'S and Joe Sobran's columns are available 
by subscription. For details and samples, see 
http://www.sobran.com/e-mail.shtml, write 
fran@griffnews.com, or call 800-513-5053."