Hitters continue to chase .400
But today, any player that comes within 30 points of Ted Williams' magic .406 – even as early as June – becomes an instant celebrity.
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The Padres' right fielder was a four-time National League batting champion heading into the 1994 campaign, but hadn't won a crown in four seasons. But that year, Gwynn kept his average in the high .380/low .390 range throughout June and July. He appeared ready to make a run at .400 before the strike stopped the season Aug. 12 with Gwynn at .394. However, Gwynn wasn't above .400 after May 15.
"The media attention now might make it impossible to do," Brett said. "But despite the media that was there for me, I really thought I was going to do it. If you get close, you're not going to back down."
Since 1994, only one player – Hall of Famer Larry Walker in 1999, who hit .379 – has topped the .375 mark. But the quest for .400 continues. Meanwhile, Williams has ascended into the pantheon of great hitters.
It was his destiny after that monumental weekend in Philadelphia.
"All I want out of life," Williams famously said, "is that when I walk down the street folks will say, 'There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.'"
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum