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Non-Fiction Monday: No Easy Way: the story of Ted Williams and the last .400 season by Fred Bowen
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Illustrated by Charles S. Pyle

In 1941, Ted Williams batted .406, a record that still stands. Apparently, Williams was advised to sit out the last two games of the season, when his record was .39955, rather than risk not hitting and losing the record. .39955 would have been rounded up to .400. But that was not the way Williams rolled.

Bowen tells a simple story about a boy with a dream to be the best hitter in baseball. This boy backed up his dream with a single-minded drive and incredible work ethic. He paid his dues, playing in junior high and then high school before playing for several minor league teams. When he was finally called up to play for the Boston Red Sox, he hit thirty-one home runs during his rookie season in 1939. Even though he hit .327, a respectable average, Williams aimed for .400. Two years later, he would do it. And there was drama in doing it. Set against a season where other players were playing great baseball, DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games, Williams' average fluctuated from month to month.

The story in and of itself is wonderful, but the rich paintings, so evocative of life in the thirties and forties, will invite lingering. News photographers with their cameras, bulbs flashing, men in fedoras, manual typewriters in the press box, ice cream parlors and newsboys, lend a Norman Rockwell feel that pays homage to Williams and baseball.

In this day and age, when parents hire private coaches for their three-year-old children so that the little athlete can get a leg up and where young athletes routinely play a sport (or sports) year-round, it sure is refreshing to read about an athlete who seems driven by self and the love of the sport.