PBS to Feature Ted Williams Documentary as Part of American Masters Series

Wiiliams Ready
Getty Images/FPG/Hulton Archive

An American hero will soon receive a very fitting American tribute.

PBS will soon air a documentary on baseball legend and American hero, Ted Williams. The documentary, part of PBS’s American Masters series, was made possible in large degree by another former Red Sox great, David Ortiz. Ortiz’ outfit, Big Papi Productions, had additional production help from Major League Baseball, Albert M. Tapper, and Nick Davis Productions.

The documentary is set to air next summer, in acknowledgment of the 100th anniversary of Ted Williams’s birth.

American Masters Executive Producer Michael Kantor explained the decision to feature a documentary on Williams: “A major American cultural figure whose story has never been properly told, Ted Williams is a fitting first. This film will reveal the man behind the legendary .406 batting average: complex, misunderstood and profoundly human.”

Portraying Williams’s humanity, according to the press release, will come in the form of showing how Williams “was driven by shame over his Mexican-American background, humiliation over his father’s weakness, and a deep rage over his mother’s virtual abandonment of him and his younger brother.” The documentary will also “reveal the star player’s complicated relationships with his family, teammates, press, fans and himself.”

Red Sox legend David Ortiz said of Williams, “Only one man ever hit more home runs for the Red Sox than I did — and that’s Ted Williams. What an honor to help tell his story for American Masters and PBS. Boston fans are the absolute best, and I’ve loved learning about how challenging a time Ted had with them; this guy used to spit at the fans and flip them off! Man, I hate to think what would’ve happened if he’d been around for Twitter!”

When he wasn’t humiliating pitchers and riling the fans, Ted Williams served his country. Williams flew 39 missions and earned an impressive array of medals and awards. They include three Air Medals for Aerial Flight Operations, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the American and Asian Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and more. When he was playing baseball, he achieved an almost unrivaled level of accomplishment. To the point where many baseball historians consider him no worse than the second-best hitter of all time.

With a record like that, it’s no wonder that PBS chose to make him the first baseball player ever featured as a part of the American Masters series.