Ted Williams, nearing the end of a phenomenally brilliant career, is probably the greatest gate attraction in baseball today. He is also a puzzling player whose personality remains unclear to the millions who follow his performance closely both on and off the field. As such he is a fitting subject for SI's cover this week and for the Conversation Piece on page 28.
Many readers have written us appreciatively about recent Conversation Pieces on Ben Hogan, Walter Alston, Blaise D'Antoni and Preacher Roe. I am sure that they will enjoy as much this latest example of SI's journalistic invention, which offers a new understanding of baseball's temperamental perfectionist.
It took three years of minor league training to hone the exceptional talents of Ted Williams to major league sharpness. For other players the time is sometimes longer. But it is in the minors that major leaguers are made.
The minors, however, are far more than that, for in the past their clubs have been as much a part of the life of their communities as the Dodgers are to Brooklyn or the Indians to Cleveland. Yet in 1955 this is no longer quite the case in many places. The minor leagues are in trouble, not for the first time, but perhaps more seriously than ever before: each week brings news of the impending or actual demise of one or more clubs.
Last winter SI (Dec. 20) looked at the situation from the perspective of the minor leagues' president, George Trautman, and the owners of the major league clubs. Last week SI's Robert Creamer looked from a different angle—on the spot with the Portsmouth, Va. club of the Class B Piedmont League and their colorful owner, Frank Lawrence. For years Lawrence has been an outspoken critic of the major league policies which he feels are destroying the minors, and he has a suit pending against the majors for damages to his club.
Creamer's story in this issue and the Conversation Piece with Ted Williams represent two opposite but equally important ways to cover the big story, the story of baseball itself, as SI brings it authoritatively and completely throughout the year.