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Four Local Heroes

THE OLD SACHEM Bill Stewart-2
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  Most of you never saw three of these four Boston sports heroes play: Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Bobby Orr and Tom Brady. The four were not only local heroes, but nationals, and are ranked among the best of their professional sport.

  Theodore Samuel Williams, better known as Ted, was born in San Diego on April 30, 1918, and died in Inverness, Florida, on July 5, 2002. His MLB debut with the Red Sox was on April 20, 1939, and his last game was on September 20, 1960. His career statistics are: batting–.344; hits–2,654; home runs–521; runs batted in–1,839; and an on base percentage of .482. In 1941 he batted .406, the last MLB player to bat over .400 for a season. He was an All-Star 19 times and selected as the league MVP twice.

  Williams graduated from Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego and was the star pitcher of the baseball team. He received offers from the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees while still in high school. He signed with the minor league San Diego Padres; his mother thought him too young to leave home. He was the backup to Vince DiMaggio, the younger brother of Joe and Dom, and batted .271 in 42 games in 1936.The Red Sox manager of the time was Eddie Collins, and he took on scouting of an infielder and was impressed by Williams. The Red Sox purchased the rights to Williams and two other minor leaguers for $35,000.

  Williams arrived in Sarasota, Florida, in 1939 for spring training. As a rookie with the Red Sox, he batted .327, hit 31 home runs and led the league in walks with 107, a rookie record. He also became the first rookie to lead the league in runs batted in with 145.

  But baseball wasn’t the whole story. He joined the Naval Reserve in May of 1942 and was activated in 1943. He became a fighter pilot in the Marines in 1944, served in the Pacific and was discharged from active duty in January 1946. He served again during the Korean War as a fighter pilot.

  In my estimation, he was the greatest Red Sox player of all time, and it was a pleasure to watch him bat.

  My basketball hero is Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. Bill was born in West Monroe, Louisiana. His father couldn’t stand the racism of the South, so he moved the family to Oakland, California. He won back-to-back state championships for McClymonds High School in Oakland. He was recruited by the University of San Francisco (USF). He and the team were not too happy outside of the game: Racism was prevalent wherever the team played, because they were the first team to start three black players.

  In 1944 for the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City, the team was denied hotel rooms, so the team slept in a closed college dorm. The team won two consecutive championships for USF.

  He was drafted into the NBA in 1956 as the second pick overall. He played for the Celtics from 1956 to 1968, and his career statistics are: games played–963; minutes per game–42.3; points–15.1; field goal percentage–44.0; rebounds–56.1; free throws percentage–22.5; and personal fouls–2,592.

  His awards are legendary. He was the UPI College Basketball Player of the Year in 1956. He was awarded the NBA MVP three times: 1962, 1963 and 1965; NBA All Defensive team in 1969; All NBA All-Star in 1959, 1963, 1965; Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011; Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year in 1968; and many others. He led the Celts to 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons.

  My National Hockey League hero is Bobby Orr. In 1971 he became the first player to have 100 assists in a single season. He was born on March 20, 1948, in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada. Bobby Orr was an OHA Jr. First Team All-Star in 1966.

  In his NHL career, he played for the Bruins from 1966 to 1976, then had two years with the Chicago Blackhawks. Orr played 657 games in the NHL, scored 270 goals, had 645 assists and 915 points, a plus minus score of 592 and 76 penalty minutes served, and he scored 324 power play goals. Among his awards were the Art Ross Trophy in 1970 and 1975, the Ted Lindsay Award in 1975, the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1979, the James Norris Memorial Trophy eight times from 1968 to 1975, the Hart Memorial Trophy three times from 1970 to 1972, the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1970 and 1972 and the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1967. He pushed the team to the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. Orr played in the All-Star game eight times from 1968 to 1975. He played for Canada for the Canada Cup in 1976 and was selected as a First Team All-Star. We will probably never see a hockey player like that again.

  My football hero is Tom Brady. You all know the heroics of the G.O.A.T. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady played in the NFL for 23 seasons, 21 for the Patriots. He was born August 3, 1977, in San Mateo, California, and graduated from Junipero High School in 1995. He played football, basketball and baseball in high school. He was a football quarterback at the University of Michigan from 1995 to 1999. He led Michigan in winning the 1999 Citrus Bowl and the 2000 Orange Bowl over Alabama. His passing stats at Michigan were 638 pass attempts, 395 completions, 61.9 percent, 4773 yards, 7.5 yards per attempt, 30 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. As for rushing, he had 90 attempts, minus 160 yards and 3 touchdowns.

  With the Patriots Brady won six Super Bowls. He won another Super Bowl ring with Tampa Bay. He was the Super Bowl MVP five times (four with New England), was awarded three NFL MVPs and 15 Pro Bowl selections. His career statistics are 335 games, 251 wins, 82 losses, 7,763 completions, 12,050 attempts, 89,215 yards and 649 touchdowns.

  These four professional players are my choice of the greatest player for Boston in their respective sports.

(Editor’s Note: Bill Stewart, better known to Saugus Advocate readers as “The Old Sachem,” writes a weekly column about sports – and sometimes he opines on current or historical events or famous people.)

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