Saturday, December 10, 2016

John Glenn and Teddy Ballgame

Two Marine aviators in Korea: John Glenn and Ted Williams.
Consider for a moment how baseball history might have changed without John Glenn, the astronaut, U.S. senator and Marine fighter ace who died Thursday at age 95.

Glenn and Ted Williams were pilots in the same Marine squadron during the Korean War. According to Glenn in this piece on Williams' military service, about half of Williams' missions were flown as Glenn's wingman.

On Feb. 16, 1953, Williams' F-9 Panther jet was heavily hit and on fire. Glenn flew next to Williams and pointed up. They flew high into thinner air, where the lack of oxygen put the fire out. Willaims limped back to base, refused to bail out, skid-landed the jet and dashed away as it caught fire again.

Glenn and Williams remained close.

Williams on Glenn: “John Glenn? Oh … could he fly an airplane. Absolutely fearless. The best I ever saw. It was an honor to fly with him.”

Glenn on Williams:  "We flew together quite a lot and got to know each other very well. Ted was an excellent pilot, and not shy about getting in there and mixing it up. Ted may have batted .400 for the Red Sox, but he hit a thousand as a U.S. Marine."

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