Ted Williams squares off against Red Auerbach in the quarterfinals of the Boston’s Biggest Sports Legend tournament.
1. Ted Williams Is there any baseball hero more beloved than Teddy Ballgame? His on-the-field honors are still unparalleled. He led the American League in batting six times, won two Triple Crowns and two AL MVP awards. Over his 21-year career, he batted .341 — the highest average of any player who played his entire career in the live-ball era. Plus, he never played for anyone except the Red Sox. Now that’s loyalty – something he also felt for his country. He forwent baseball twice to serve in the U.S. military, as a pilot in World War II (1942-46) and the Korean War (1952-53). The infield shift was practically pioneered in his name, and in his final career at-bat, he went out with a bang in front of the Fenway faithful, hitting his 521st career home run. He owns MLB’s best career on-base percentage and the second-best slugging percentage. “If I was being paid $30,000 a year, the very least I could do was hit .400,” Williams once said. Tough to argue with a Hall of Famer.
2. Red Auerbach Before the Lakers won everything in June of 2009, Arnold “Red” Auerbach’s nine NBA championships served as the most by one coach in league history. Phil Jackson may have surpassed that mark, but Auerbach is still regarded as one of the very best coaches of all time. The Coach of the Year trophy even is named after him. He was responsible for implementing a team-first, defense-oriented approach and drafted the league’s first African-American player. Auerbach transformed the Celtics from NBA laughingstock to NBA powerhouse, leading Boston to nine championships in 10 years from 1956 to 1966. He moved to the front office and won another seven titles as general manager and president of the Celtics. No other person did as much to turn the franchise into what it is today: a storied title machine that is often remembered as one of the greatest dynasties in the history of professional sports.