King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Ted Williams has been decapitated, and I'm not feeling so well myself. Plus: Bill Clinton can't keep his mind on baseball. And: The jock translator.


Salon Staff
August 14, 2003 11:00PM (UTC)

I've just been reading about Ted Williams' body, and I want to get this in writing while I'm still alive.

When I die I want to be cremated, and I want my ashes to be used as eye-black by the Lansing Lugnuts.

Sports Illustrated reports in its current issue that Williams' head was removed from his body when his remains arrived at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., last year, and that the two pieces of the Splendid Splinter are being stored in separate containers. The magazine's Tom Verducci also reports that the slugger's head was shaved and drilled with holes and that it cracked in 10 places during the cryonic freezing process.

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The news here is that Williams is having a worse time in Scottsdale than I had last time I was there, when my problem was almost exactly the opposite of the great ballplayer's: My body was intact, but the heat made parts of it I didn't even know I had stick together.

The Sports Illustrated story casts further doubt on whether Williams actually wanted to be frozen postmortem, a point of contention in the days following his death. The only documentation in favor of the process is a note on a piece of paper stained with motor oil that contains the signatures of Williams, his son John Henry and his daughter Claudia. Bobby-Jo Ferrell, Williams' daughter by his first marriage, who opposed the freezing of her father's body, claims that Williams signed legal documents Theodore S. Williams, not Ted Williams, as his name appears on the paper.

Just a quick reminder here for my family: Cremated, then Lansing Lugnuts. Ignore all documents that aren't signed with the name I use on all legal and financial documents, Bill Gates. Thank you.

Sports Illustrated also reports that eight of 182 DNA samples from Williams' body are missing. Ferrell has contended that John Henry Williams wanted their father frozen to preserve his DNA, with an eye toward possibly selling it someday.

What am I missing here? Why is Williams' DNA valuable? Everyone in this sorry tale has Ted Williams' DNA except the Alcor people and I guess the collection agent who's probably placing a call right now about the $111,000 that John Henry still owes the cryonics lab. Is it doing them any good? John Henry, 34, has parlayed his last name and lack of baseball talent into a stint with a team called the Baton Rouge River Bats of the independent Southeastern League. (Actual directions from the team's Web site: "The field is [on] the right across from Memorial Stadium." They play across from the stadium!) As reader Jim Glockling writes, "I bet he's a crappy fisherman too."

I don't know if there's a lesson here for the rest of us. I'm guessing most of us don't have relatives with plans to sell our DNA someday. I'm amending my will right here. If my heirs want to sell my DNA, they can. As long as I'm dead. And they sell it to the Lansing Lugnuts.

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Would he be a free swinger? [PERMALINK]

Former President Bill Clinton visited with Mets and Giants players before Tuesday's game at Shea Stadium. He joked about politicians playing baseball against reporters, with ballplayers asking "mean questions." When someone asked him what position he'd like to play, he lamented, "A place where my bad knees would have to move the least. I'd love to play the field and run around."

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We know, Bill. We know.

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They say it, we translate [PERMALINK]

The sporting world is a specialized one, and like all other specializations it has its own lingo, argot, slang. Sometimes it's hard for regular people -- even good-looking ones like yourself -- to understand what sports personalities are talking about.

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So as a public service we present the King Kaufman Sports Daily Translation Service, an occasional feature in which the utterances of the jockstrap set are turned into plain English.

What they said: Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, asked whether top pick Byron Leftwich, who signed Wednesday after a 19-day holdout, has missed too much of training camp to be an effective quarterback this year, said, "We're right at that edge. He's got a lot of catching up to do. We'll answer that once he's here."

Translation: He'll be very effective at making sure the clipboard doesn't get dirty, because he's going to spend the entire season holding it while Mark Brunell plays. It's hard enough for a rookie quarterback to learn to play in the NFL. If he misses three-fourths of training camp, it's pretty much impossible. Hope those few extra bucks -- the difference between an incredible amount of money and an incredible amount of money plus a few extra bucks -- were worth it to kick away a whole year, a little under a third of the average NFL career.

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