I died in Inverness, Florida. I was 83.
The cause was cardiac arrest. I had a number of heart, kidney, vision, and mobility ailments since suffering a stroke in 1991. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital from my home in Hernando, Florida because I was having difficulty breathing.
Any stories you read about my head are pure bunk—fake news!
In life, my relationship with the Boston community was damaged by a long-running feud between me and much of the Boston media. The newspapermen didn’t make my life any easier, but I didn’t help myself with my legendary stubbornness. The same mind that ensured I could remember a pitch that struck me out three months before was not going to forget any slights inflicted by a hostile press.
I was a driven, obsessed young man. I thought the weight of the damn world was always on my neck, grinding on me.
I wanted to be the greatest hitter who ever lived.
Nobody ever worked harder at hitting. Hitting a baseball was at the core of my existence. My whole life was hitting.
Hitting is a correction thing. Every swing you're changing. Every thought you're correcting. Every time up, you're thinking. If I was battling a slump, I stayed up all night thinking about what to change.
Before he died, Charley Lau ranked me as the greatest hitter in baseball history. You could look it up.
I have always thought of baseball as the best of all games: the most interesting, the most demanding, the most rewarding. I cannot begin to express the gratification I have felt in being part of the game of baseball with such a wonderful flavor and spirit. The game I love has produced such superb champions and attractive personalities as Merkle, Young, Stivetts, Arlington, Jackson, Wambsganss, Evers, Stengel, Piersall, Berra, Martin, Hobbs, McAvoy, and Al the Boss Angel.
Wherever I traveled at home or abroad, I found baseball to be a universal language. I enjoyed every moment spent in baseball—above all the many wonderful friends I have made. I loved playing baseball more than anything else in my life.
The prospect that there was going to be baseball in my day made me feel privileged and extremely happy. I could not wait for the sun to rise so I could get to the ballpark again.
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