It’s baseball season – my favorite time of year. Every year I try to read a baseball-related biography. As I was considering which one to go with this year, I realized I didn’t know very much about the man known as the greatest hitter ever. I knew he was the last person to ever have a .400 batting average for a season, that he was a WWII hero, and known as one of the all time greats, but that was about it. So I picked up Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero by Leigh Montville. It is a great biography – well written, interesting, comprehensive. [Ted was known for some incredibly salty language, so go in accordingly.]
Ted Williams’ life is much more interesting than I anticipated. His was a fascinating life lived at high speed – totally fearless, and always his way. Here’s my first takeaway from his life…
Family Must Always Come First
Williams’ father left at an early age, leaving his mother to raise two young boys in San Diego. His mother was a member of the local Salvation Army post where she became so heavily involved that her boys were left to virtually raise themselves. They had hardly any supervision, support, or nurture from their mom. Ted and his brother Danny were left to rely on aunts, uncles, and neighbors. Ted channeled his passion, his energy, his hurt into baseball. I’m sure Ted’s mother thought her main ministry was as a soldier and evangelist with the Salvation Army. I’m sure she did great work in that ministry. But she neglected her children in the process and it had drastic effects that still echo today. Before God trusts us with a ministry or a mission, He trusts us with our family – it’s our first calling. Care and ministry of our family must always take priority.
Ted Williams said he hated God, he had a history of treating women terribly, and was an absent father himself. Ted’s outlook on God, women, children and life in general was determined by the way he was brought up. Because his mother thought serving at the church was more important than caring for him and his brother, be became angry and it impacted the rest of his life.
Our families must come first. If we neglect our families for the sake of our ministry, we are, in effect, abandoning our first ministry.
If there were a Mount Rushmore of baseball players Ted Williams would probably be on it. He was truly great. He was the epitome of dedication, persistence, hard work, and immense skill all wrapped up in one package. But as great a player as he was, he was equally bad at having a family. He generally lived for himself, with little to no regard for his kids or wives. When Ted became older, his son John-Henry took advantage of his father, squandered much of his money and became generally regarded as a pariah.
After Ted’s death, all his children took up numerous lawsuits with each other, with Ted’s former wives, and others. At his death there was no joy, no celebration on an amazing life – just anger between his kids.
When we neglect our families, there are consequences that last generations. This is a great lesson for me: no matter what I’m doing or the seeming importance of my job, nothing will be more important than raising my kids and being there for my family. Nothing.
What the Bible Says About It…
You shall teach them [the law of God] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
I have a few more thoughts on his life. I’ll share in the next post. Thanks for reading! I welcome comments! If you have any, leave them below. I’d love to read them.