Ted Williams: Baseball Hall of Famer, wartime fighter pilot, master fisherman. And creepy sculpture? An upcoming New York art exhibit, lampooning the controversial end to Williams’ life, will feature a fictional representation of the Boston Red Sox star’s head — currently preserved in deep freeze at a Scottsdale business.
Artist Daniel Edwards, in a news release issued Thursday, said the bust "reveals a chilly facial expression of grim, yet peaceful resignation and is likely to be shocking to fans recalling images of the livelier moments of ‘The Splendid Splinter’ in his prime."
The exhibit doesn’t open until Sept. 6, in the Chelsea district’s First Street Gallery, yet proving Edwards’ prediction correct, some people are already shocked.
At Williams’ resting place in Scottsdale, Alcor Life Extension Foundation officials were startled by the claim they provided materials to Edwards, such as a baseball cap bearing the company logo.
"Alcor has not contributed anything to this art exhibit," CEO Joe Waynick said.
Following Williams’ death in July 2002 his body was transported from Florida to Alcor’s Scottsdale Airpark facility, where his head was surgically removed from the body and stored in liquid nitrogen.
According to Williams’ son from his third wife, John Henry Williams, his father wanted to be cryogenically preserved along with his children.
But Williams’ last will showed he wanted to be cremated, and his ashes spread in the waters off Florida.
Edwards did not return messages seeking comment, but in what may be a glimpse into his attitude, the exhibit is titled "The Ben Affleck 2004 World Series Collection." The actor is a fan of the Red Sox.
John Heer, the attorney who represented Williams’ daughter against her halfbrother in the long legal fight over their father’s remains, tried to express hope some good might come from the exhibit.
"I don’t know this artist at all, but I am hoping there is an intent to get people to think about what really did happen to Ted, what is his fate now," Heer said. "Because maybe they’ll figure out how much of a travesty the whole thing was."
Other items to be displayed are a baseball card from 1954 and an issue of Life magazine with Williams on the cover.
Heer said the bust, although graphic, doesn’t truly capture what happened to the self-proclaimed "greatest hitter who ever lived."
"As awful and grim as that look is in the face that’s sculpted, the real thing is far, far, far worse."
Ted Williams timeline
Aug. 30, 1918: Born in San
April 20, 1939: Plays first game for Boston Red Sox
1941: Twenty-two-year-old Williams becomes the last Major League Baseball player to hit .400 for a season, batting .406
Sept. 28, 1960: Final game as a professional baseball player
1966: Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
July 5, 2002: Ted Williams dies in Crystal River, Fla. His body is transported to Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, where his head is cryogenically preserved in liquid nitrogen.
Dec. 20, 2002: Daughter Bobby Jo Ferrell drops her fight to have the courts uphold her father’s will, which said Williams wanted to be cremated with his ashes spread in the waters off Florida. Her half-brother, John Henry Williams, had claimed their father wanted to be preserved in deep freeze.
March 6, 2004: John Henry Williams dies from leukemia at age 35.
April 2004: Arizona lawmaker stops pursuing bill that would require state oversight of Alcor.
May 2004: The executor of Ted Williams’ estate sues Ferrell and her husband, alleging they violated an agreement by repeatedly voicing their opposition to Alcor.
October 2004: Alcor loses court battle and must turn over confidential files to family concerning Williams’ final wishes.
Sept. 6, 2005: Art exhibit to open in New York gallery, featuring a fictional death mask of Williams and items from Alcor.