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Both of Them Did Things Their Way

July 06, 2002|Gary Klein

When Tom Lasorda learned Friday of Ted Williams' death, he remembered one exchange that personified Williams' status as an American icon.

Lasorda was making a speech in Toronto years ago when he saw Williams and Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins sitting unnoticed in the crowd.

Lasorda introduced the two to a rousing ovation and afterward agreed to get together at Williams' hotel.

"We started talking hitting and the next thing you know it's 3 o'clock in the morning," Lasorda recalled. "Then Ted says, 'Hey, you're a good friend of Frank Sinatra's right? Geez, I love to listen to that guy sing. Next time you see him, make sure you tell him I think he's the greatest.'

"So I say to Ted, 'Why don't you tell him yourself?'

"Now, it's late, but I knew Frank would be up. So I called him and said, 'Francis, someone wants to talk to you.'

"Well, Ted gets on the phone and goes on and on about how honored he is to talk to Frank and how great he thinks Frank is. Finally, he's done and he hands the phone to me so I can say goodbye.

"I get back on the line and the first thing Sinatra says is, 'I can't believe I was talking to Ted Williams!' "

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