The name of the 406 Club was inspired by the life of ordinary young man who became an exceptional baseball player and extraordinary American, Ted Williams. Born to working-class mixed-race couple in San Diego, Williams grew up playing what was then America’s Pastime, baseball. He began to separate himself from the ordinary on the baseball diamond making it to the Major Leagues as a 20 year old. In his rookie season he had what the legendary Babe Ruth called “the best rookie year ever”. Two years later, Williams’ 1941 season is still considered the best offensive performance of all time. Williams batted .406 that year, the first man to have a batting average over .400 since 1924 and no one has done it since.
While exceptional on the diamond, Williams separated himself once again during WWII. While most celebrity soldiers were involved in recruiting, morale and administrative duties, Williams earned his wings as a Naval Aviator and trained as Marine Corps combat pilot fly the famous F4U Corsair. While WWII ended before Williams saw actual combat, he returned to active duty as a Marine Corps Captain during the Korean War and completed 39 combat missions flying an F9F jet fighter. A majority of those combat mission were as wing man for Major John Glenn who would later become one of the original astronauts and a United States Senator. John Glenn is said to have described Williams as one of the best pilots he knew while Glenn’s wife Annie described him as the most profane man she ever met!
The last man to hit over 400 in America’s Pastime, two tours as a Marine Corps pilot, 39 combat mission and flying as John Glenn’s wingman. Truly an extraordinary life well spent by an ordinary kid from San Diego.