Richard Fraser M.D.

Ted Williams, aka "Teddy Ballgame," "The Splendid Splinter" and "The Kid," was number nine on Boston Red Sox in a two decade baseball career that began in 1939. During this 20 year period Williams spent three years as a Navy pilot during World War II, and two years as a Marine pilot in the Korean war.

He was said to be the best baseball hitter in the world (last major leaguer to hit over .400), the best fighter pilot, the best fly-caster and a ballplayer who would drop everything if he could encourage a sick child. He worked in an era when there were eight daily newspapers in Boston and he was the main sports story almost every day.

Ted Williams made a significant impact on baseball. He was the largest sports figure in the history of New England, our own Babe Ruth. He was the greatest hitter who ever lived, a war hero, a Hall of Fame fly fisherman, and a champion of the Jimmy Fund. He won six batting titles, four home run crowns, and led the league in RBI four times. Eight times he led the AL in walks.

He won the Triple Crown in 1942 and 1947. He has the highest lifetime batting average of any of the 17 players with 500 homers. He led the AL in OPS by more than 50 points five times, something accomplished only eight other times in baseball history. He not only has the single-season on-base percentage record of .551 in 1941, he is also the career leader. How big was Williams? "If you took Larry Bird and Bobby Orr in their heyday and combined that, you'd have an idea how big Ted was in Boston in his prime,'' said talk-show host Eddie Andelman, who grew up during the Williams era. Before there was cable, before there was videotape, before there was color TV, before there was sports talk radio, there was Ted. Before we had a lot of things, we had Ted. After Ted, we have memories.

Instead of fading away after he hit his final home run off Jack Fisher in 1960, the legend of Ted Williams only grew in his retirement. At the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park Williams was brought in a golf cart to the mound, surrounded by baseball's greatest players as they paid homage to the man acclaimed as the greatest hitter who ever lived. On that night members of the All-Century Team and the All-Star squads heard the startling announcement, ''Would the greatest players of all time please clear the field.'' It goes down as New England's most memorable, nongame, sporting moment of the last century.

When Williams died his body disappeared from the Florida funeral home--mysteriously to some--and ended up in a cryonics facility in Scottsdale. His son, John Henry Williams, who had seen little of his father while growing up, had become close to his father in his last years. The younger Williams who was studying business at the University of Maine got the idea of selling a fifty-year commemorative T-shirt honoring his father's .406 batting average in 1941. Eventually John-Henry was managing his father's affairs. When his father suffered a stroke in 1994, he moved to Florida to care for him.

John-Henry's half sister objected strenuously and her attorney made the claim that Ted Williams really wanted cremation, and that the younger Williams sought to preserve his father's DNA, possibly to sell. Lawyers for the estate of Ted Williams yesterday forcefully declared that the Red Sox legend wanted his body cryonically frozen despite a signed will that specified cremation, arguing that Williams later came to favor the controversial freezing procedure.

A Florida judge was eventually asked to decide whether Williams's body should remain in cryonic preservation or be cremated after the collapse of intensive negotiations between Ferrell, who has demanded Williams's cremation, and the other siblings. Written documentation was requested showing the deceased had wanted to be frozen cryogenically.

This document was produced under equally dubious and mysterious circumstances by John Williams indicating that his father had requested his body be frozen. I was called by several television stations in the Boston area and also the New England Cable News Network to investigate the documents. Segments of my interview with the New England Cable News Network were shown on CNN nationally.

In investigating this document and in performing a proper forensic handwriting evaluation, four key areas are addressed, namely naturalness in the writing, consistency, stroke structure and idiosyncrasies.

Even before performing a detailed examination of the handwriting, the circumstances surrounding the production of the document were questionable and raised suspicion of forgery. First, there was litigation involved with pressure being placed on John Williams to produce evidence that stated his father wanted to be frozen. This document was found in the back of a trunk at a very convenient point in the trial. The document itself was oil stained and had smeared writing with the overall quality being poor, completely inconsistent with the handling of an important legal document.

Along with the circumstances of the document being “unnatural” and having inconsistencies, the writing itself was not consistent with other legal documents of Ted Williams. The style, the quality, the slant pattern, the spacing of words as well as the size of the letters, the speed of the writing, use of the margin and spacing of the words on the paper were not consistent with known writings of Ted Williams from the same time period.

Along with natural writing and consistency, the stroke structure was studied namely the way that each letter is formed on the paper. Differences were quickly noticed in the formation of most letters. Angles of the initial strokes, connecting strokes and then ending strokes were different along with the size, shape and angles of loops as well as the slant pattern.

Finally, idiosyncrasies could be noticed in the way that the letters were formed which were not seen on other known signatures. For example, Ted Williams always signed his legal documents as Theodore with the T being further going horizontal stroke rather than an angular stroke with a hairpin loop at the bottom. Other discrepancies quickly emerged upon studying the document.

These findings were presented on local, regional and national television. I was also contacted by Bobby Joe Farrell’s attorney in Englewood, Florida to discuss the case and was asked to submit my findings to his office for review.

The matter was set to be resolved by Florida courts, but in December 2002 after the daughter had spent $87,000 of her retirement savings, she withdrew the suit. In March, 2004, John-Henry died of leukemia. Reports were that his body was also frozen in Scottsdale. John-Henry's half sister and her husband renewed their efforts to thaw her father following his death. In June 2004, it appeared that the whole matter had reached an icy conclusion. They reached an agreement with Alcor that they would end their objection to Williams remaining in a frozen state.

FYI: Handwriting analysis and the art of forgery detection have many names, including document examination, questioned document examination, questioned writing analysis, handwriting evaluation, questioned handwriting examination, questioned signature verification, forgery evaluation, forgery analysis. A handwriting examiner is also referred to as a document examiner, handwriting expert, handwriting specialist, handprinting examiner, handprinting expert or a specialist in forgery detection. Questioned document examination and forgery detection differ from graphology also called behavior profiling in that a questioned document examiner is concerned about authenticating the writing through comparison with know samples, as compared to evaluating the psychological and personality traits of the author.