Year
1941
Month Day
September 28

Ted Williams becomes last player to hit .400

On September 28, 1941, the Boston Red Sox’s Ted Williams plays a double-header against the Philadelphia Athletics on the last day of the regular season and gets six hits in eight trips to the plate, to boost his batting average to .406 and become the first player since Bill Terry in 1930 to hit .400. Williams, who spent his entire career with the Sox, played his final game exactly 19 years later, on September 28, 1960, at Boston’s Fenway Park and hit a home run in his last time at bat, for a career total of 521 homeruns.

Williams was born on August 30, 1918, in San Diego, and began his major league career with the Red Sox in 1939. 1941 marked Williams’ best season. In addition to his .406 batting average–no major league player since him has hit .400–the left fielder led the league with 37 homers, 135 runs and had a slugging average of .735. Also that season, Williams, whose nicknames included “The Splendid Splinter” and “The Thumper,” had an on-base percentage of .553, a record that remained unbroken for 61 years, until Barry Bonds achieved a percentage of .582 in 2002.

In 1942, Williams won the American League Triple Crown, for highest batting average and most RBIs and homeruns. He duplicated the feat in 1947. In 1946 and 1949, he was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player and in June 1960, he became the fourth player in major league history to hit 500 homers. He was selected to the All-Star team 17 times.

Williams played his last game on September 28, 1960, and retired with a lifetime batting average of .344, a .483 career on-base percentage and 2,654 hits. His achievements are all the more impressive because his career was interrupted twice for military service: Williams was a Marine Corps pilot during World War II and the Korean War and as a result missed a total of nearly five seasons from baseball.

Williams, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, managed the Washington Senators (renamed the Texas Rangers in 1972) from 1969 to 1972. In 1984, the Boston Red Sox retired his uniform number (nine). Williams died of cardiac arrest at age 83 on July 5, 2002, in Florida. In a controversial move, his son sent his father’s body to be frozen at a cryonics laboratory.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Arctic shipping lane opens due to ice melt; cargo ship completes the journey

On September 28, 2018, the cargo ship Venta Maersk docks in St. Petersburg, Russia, more than a month after departing from Vladivostok on the other side of the country. The successful traversal of the Russian Arctic was a landmark moment for the international shipping industry, ...read more

On This Day In History: Fidel Castro announces that Cubans are free to leave the island

Fidel Castro announces that Cubans are free to leave the island

On September 28, 1965, six years after he led the Cuban Revolution and four years after the failed U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs Invasion, Fidel Castro announces that any Cuban who wished to leave the island was free to do so. With Cuban forces no longer blocking civilians from ...read more

William the Conqueror invades England

Claiming his right to the English throne, William, duke of Normandy, invades England at Pevensey on Britain’s southeast coast. His subsequent defeat of King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings marked the beginning of a new era in British history. William was the illegitimate son ...read more

Passenger ferry, Estonia, sinks, killing 852

On September 28, 1994, 852 people die in one of the worst maritime disasters of the century when the Estonia, a large car-and-passenger ferry, sinks in the Baltic Sea. The German-built ship was traveling on an overnight cruise from Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, to ...read more

Penicillin discovered

Sir Alexander Fleming was a young bacteriologist when an accidental discovery led to one of the great developments of modern medicine on September 28, 1928. Having left a plate of staphylococcus bacteria uncovered, Fleming noticed that a mold that had fallen on the culture had ...read more

Pompey the Great assassinated

Upon landing in Egypt, Roman general and politician Pompey is murdered on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt. During his long career, Pompey the Great displayed exceptional military talents on the battlefield. He fought in Africa and Spain, quelled the slave revolt of Spartacus, ...read more

Ted Williams hits home run in last major league at-bat

On September 28, 1960, at Boston’s Fenway Park, Red Sox star Ted Williams hits a home run in the last at-bat of his 21-year career. Ted Williams once said it was his goal in life to “walk down the street [and have] folks say ‘there goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.’” He ...read more

Spanish explorer discovers San Diego Bay

On September 28, 1542, the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrives in San Diego Bay while searching for the Strait of Anian, a mythical all-water route across North America. Cabrillo was not the first to search for a water passage across the North American continent, and ...read more

TV host Ed Sullivan born

On September 28, 1901, Ed Sullivan, who will become the host of the long-running TV variety program The Ed Sullivan Show, is born in New York City. During the peak of its popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, Sullivan’s program showcased a wide range of entertainers, including Elvis ...read more

Philadelphia parade exposes thousands to Spanish flu

On September 28, 1918, a Liberty Loan parade in Philadelphia prompts a huge outbreak of Spanish flu in the city. By the time the pandemic ended, an estimated 20 million to 50 million people were dead worldwide. Influenza is a highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory ...read more

A cult leader kills one of his followers

Roch Theriault fatally wounds Solange Boislard in Ontario, Canada. Theriault, the leader of the most bizarre and violent cult in Canadian history, often physically abused his followers. Obsessed with anatomy and medicine, Theriault performed crude intestinal surgery on Boislard ...read more

Battle of Yorktown begins

On September 28, 1781, General George Washington, commanding a force of 17,000 French and Continental troops, begins the siege known as the Battle of Yorktown against British General Lord Charles Cornwallis and a contingent of 9,000 British troops at Yorktown, Virginia, in the ...read more

British soldier allegedly spares the life of an injured Adolf Hitler

On September 28, 1918, in an incident that would go down in the lore of World War I history—although the details of the event are still unclear—Private Henry Tandey, a British soldier serving near the French village of Marcoing, reportedly encounters a wounded German soldier and ...read more