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Was Ted Williams Frozen?

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding Ted Williams' death, but what really happened?

To this day, Ted Williams is known as one of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. He started creating his legacy in 1941 and continued to display impressive athleticism until he retired in 1960. Ted Williams passed away in 2002 and controversy ensued amongst his family. His son and youngest daughter wanted to have Williams cryopreserved, while his eldest daughter wanted to move forward with his previously stated desire to be cremated. The result was a little bit of chaos, a dash of cryonics, and a whole lot of cynicism. In this article, we’ll dissect this story piece by piece to gain a better understanding of what really happened on that day back in the early 2000s. 

Ted Williams was a baseball legend, but today his name is more often associated with cryopreservation

Who Was Ted Williams? 

Over the course of his 19-year career, Ted Williams was known as a baseball legend. He was a two-time, Triple Crown winner and remains to be the last hitter to ever bat an average above .400. For reference, league-wide batting averages tend to be around .250, so he was a pretty big deal. During his time in the MLB, he also hit an impressive 521 home runs. 

After a long, successful career, Ted Williams retired from the game in 1960 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. In the midst of his baseball career, Williams also served in the United States Navy and Marine Corps during World War II from 1942 to 1946. He returned to active duty for a portion of the 1952 and 1953 baseball seasons as a Marine combat aviator in the Korean War. 

Ted Williams throwing the first pitch at a 1999 Red Sox vs. New York Mets game

The Controversy Surrounding Ted Williams’ Cryopreservation

Ted Williams died on July 5, 2002, at the age of 83. When writing his will years before his death, he stated his wish to be cremated and have his ashes scattered throughout the Florida Keys. However, Ted’s son John Henry and youngest daughter Claudia took a different route. Instead, they sent Williams' body to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Although a topic of speculation and debate, two of Ted’s children decided to have their father cryopreserved

There were two issues with this decision. Ted’s will had clearly stated his desire to be cremated and his eldest daughter, Bobby-Jo Ferrell was not happy with her siblings’ decision to do otherwise. However, after Bobby-Jo sued, a lawyer produced a legally binding family pact (a note) that was signed by John Henry, Claudia, and Ted Williams while he was alive. This note post-dated his will and confirmed Williams’ desire to be cryopreserved. It was considered sufficient evidence that Williams wanted to undergo biostasis after the legal pronouncement of death and Bobby-Jo dropped her charges. 

Having family members aligned with your wishes and ensuring that you properly document everything revolving around your after-life care is essential to avoid these types of issues. It also greatly reduces the burden of stress and responsibility that would otherwise lie on your family after legal death. 

A few years later, in 2004, John Henry reached legal death after a fight with leukemia and was transported to Alcor to join his father in cryopreservation

Although the media makes it sound barbaric (with one source even referring to the cryogenic storage dewar as a ‘lobster pot’), Ted Williams’ brain was removed from his body in a procedure called neuroseparation. It is currently cryopreserved separately from his body. It should also be noted that any Alcor member can choose the option of neuro-only cryopreservation when they sign up.

To address claims that Ted Williams’ body was mistreated and damaged, one has to understand the process of cryopreservation and the ultimate goal. It’s meant to act as a life-saving procedure and, while the technology has come a long way, it’s still not perfect.  

The future goal is to create nanotechnology that will not only be used to help revive cryopreserved patients, but also to repair any damage that contributed to their legal death or incurred during the cryopreservation process. While this technology does not currently exist, there’s no biological reason that it could never come to fruition. 

Cryopreservation involves storing patients in liquid nitrogen to maintain the necessary temperatures of about -196°C


What will happen to Ted Williams and the other cryopreserved patients around the world? Only time will tell. The goal of biostasis is to give people the chance to potentially be revived at some point in the future. The idea is that by the time any revival technology will be developed, methodology to repair damaged cells, aging, and all sorts of terminal conditions will already exist. 

So, at the end of the day, cryopreservation provides a degree of hope rather than finality. Are you interested in giving it a chance? If so, sign up to be a member today or schedule a call with one of our team members to learn more about this life-saving technology!


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