Best Sports Legend - 2008
Ted Williams' head
Now, we've got lots of sports legends living in the Valley: Muhammad Ali (he's still alive, isn't he?), probably the greatest athlete of all time; Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player ever; mouth-from-the-South Charles Barkley; Iron Mike Tyson. And quite a few sports legends have died here: George Mikan, the first legitimate NBA big man, and baseball's Kirby Puckett. But there's one who never lived here or died here, but whose body and head (separated for storage) are frozen here in the hopes that one day, when medical science has achieved a God-like proportion, the two can be rejoined and rejuvenated into a live and well Ted Williams.
Even dead, the great Boston Red Sox slugger is bigger than life. Nary a year goes by when a major publication or broadcast outlet doesn't marvel at how Ted's noggin wound up at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale in "cryonic suspension." One story is that Williams scribbled a note on a napkin that he wanted to be "put in biostasis" after death, another is that he stated in his will that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered over a favorite fishing spot. There were legal rumblings among family members over what the baseball great really desired, but Williams and his head have been at Alcor since shortly after his death on July 5, 2002.
Now there's nobody in the Valley who's more legendary than Teddy Ballgame. He played 19 seasons with Boston and is considered by many the greatest all-around hitter in baseball history. He was Most Valuable Player in the American league twice, led the league in hitting six times, had a lifetime batting average of .344 and hit 521 home runs. He was the last major-leaguer to hit over .400 (.406, actually) in a single season (1941). He always went out with flash: on his final at-bat on September 28, 1960, he hit a home run. In addition to his baseball career, he was a distinguished Marine Corps pilot in World War II and the Korean War.
When Bob Costas once asked Williams whether he realized that he was a real-life John Wayne hero, Williams responded: "Yeah, I know." We sincerely hope that medical science is someday able to revive a hero of such egocentric proportions, that a youth serum has been invented to return Williams (who was 82 when he died) to his youthful form, and that he struts into left field for the Diamondbacks. Though he never won a World Series during his playing days, we're sure that (even coming back from the dead) he'd be come closer helping our boys in cleats do it than Eric Byrnes.