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FIRST-PERSON: Let Ted Williams remain who he was

MULKEYTOWN, Ill. (BP)–Ted Williams would be rolling over in his grave — that is, of course, if he was actually in his grave.

Thanks to the antics of a disturbed son, the future of Ted Williams’ remains is uncertain. The Splendid Splinter deserved a better ending than this.

The great Boston Red Sox slugger died July 5 at age 83. His health had been deteriorating for some time, so his passing came as no surprise. He lived a full life, and you could make the argument that Williams was indeed what he always wanted to be known as — “the greatest hitter who ever lived.”

He compiled a lifetime batting average of .344 and cranked 521 homers, all while missing more than four full seasons in his prime to serve his country in World War II and the Korean War. He often had a tempestuous relationship with the media and the Boston fans, but memories of that faded as Williams grew older. At the time of his death, he was probably the most beloved sports figure in Boston.

According to his daughter, Bobby-Jo Ferrell, Williams’ wishes were to be cremated. That should be where the story ends. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Enter Williams’ son, John Henry. According to Ferrell (John Henry’s half-sister), John Henry had Ted’s body whisked away to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, an Arizona cryonics company that freezes bodies after death. The whole notion behind cryonics is to preserve bodies until such a time in the future when science and medicine will have advanced enough to revive them. Yeah, right.

Ferrell claims John Henry’s purpose for this freezing is to preserve Williams’ DNA so he can sell it in the future. Once human cloning is commonplace, John Henry evidently thinks people would pay handsomely for his dad’s DNA. George Steinbrenner would probably be first in line. Imagine having a lineup with Ted Williams at every position.

John Henry, meanwhile, says his intentions are more noble and that he wants to keep open the door that Williams might be resuscitated one day.

Ferrell says she only wants her father’s wishes to be fulfilled. A judge is supposed to decide this week what will happen with Williams’ body.

This sad episode is another example of what can happen when humans dabble in areas that should be reserved for God. If John Henry does want to sell his father’s DNA, that’s just sickening. He obviously cares nothing for his father’s desires and wants only to profit from his dad’s accomplishments.

But let’s give John Henry the benefit of the doubt and assume his reasoning for freezing his father’s body is so that Williams can be revived in the future. It’s still a case of humans trying to cheat death.

No matter the extremes to which we go, and no matter how much we try to fight it, the fact remains that God has appointed unto man once to die. No amount of technological wizardry will ever change that. It’s so much better to be prepared when that time comes than to trust modern medicine to keep us on this earth for a few more days.

Williams was certainly one of the greatest baseball players ever, but he was still a mere mortal. His exploits on the field were legendary, but his life had to end. It’s time to let him rest on his own terms.
Tim Ellsworth’s column appears weekly in BPSports, at www.bpsports.net.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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