ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: An Immortal Man (2015)

Directed by Josh Koury & Myles Kane

We all know what a bizarro world we live in today. With YouTube sensations and wacky local news stories available in bulk, there is plenty of entertainment to be had at the expense of others. But then there is the story of Ted Williams, perhaps the most natural hitter in the history of the game of baseball. We don’t usually associate the wacky new stories with those of well-known celebrities or athletes, but when Williams died in 2002 that changed. Supposedly based upon his own wishes, Williams’ body was shipped to Alcor, a cryonics facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, where his body would be cryogenically preserved in hopes of resuscitation upon a future medical discovery.
The jury is out as to whether this was truly the wish of Williams, or whether it was the weird desire of his son, John Henry, to freeze his dad and perhaps even profit from the DNA. There is some debate over the note used by John Henry to gain the right to freeze his father. Some believe the note to be a forgery, with John Henry using a “practice” autograph from his father for his signature, filling the rest of the document in around it. And there seems to be some validity to this theory as it was not sign “Theodore”, as Ted Williams traditionally did with legal documents according to a biographer. But whether it was his wish or not is only part of the story. The real question on my mind is what is the validity of a process like this, and what would drive someone to partake and believe in it?
For John Henry it makes all the sense in the world. Presumably living at his father’s coattails the majority of his life, forcing him sign autographs and pull strings for him to play semi-professional baseball. Living forever, and having the opportunity to further rise his father’s coattails makes sense. But then why would Williams himself desire a status he had already achieved, immortality? Williams was a ballplayer, and says he wanted to be remembered as such. He ended his career and in fact his life as perhaps the greatest hitter in the history of the game, having achieved so much. So why then the desire to live forever? No one really knows, and of course it may not have even been his idea or his wish. But the peculiarity of this story is unrivaled by most of the other oddities reviewed in the shorts series.

**1/2 – Average

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