The Lutz Family Collection of Ted Williams Letters
Ted Williams grew up in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood at 4121 Utah street and played his high school ball at Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego. It was during these early years growing up on Utah street that Ted formed his life long friendship with John and Grace Lutz along with their boys Carl and Jack. The Lutz family and the Williams family were neighbors beginning in 1923. John was in the poultry business and an avid outdoorsman. Ted would visit often, peppering him with questions while he cleaned game or did other chores around the property. John would include the young Ted on hunting and fishing trips and their friendship blossomed. Ted liked to be around people who were good at what they did and John was an excellent fisherman and marksman. Ted, when asked about John Lutz by Dave Distal a San Diego County newspaperman in the late 1980’s would recount “I hunted with him 50 years ago, he was the greatest shot I ever saw and the greatest guy I ever knew.” The Lutz boys, Carl and Jack also enjoyed a special relationship with Williams. Carl remembers joining Ted numerous time to “Malty Up” at the local ice cream parlor where Ted and the boys would enjoy a tasty treat as Ted, always concerned with his weight, tried to pack on pounds for his baseball career.
In the years after Ted’s baseball star has risen, he would use the Lutz house as a sanctuary from the clamoring fans and media that always sought his time. When Ted would visit he would often announce to the Lutz’s “If the phone rings, I’m not here” then he would settle back into a chair and reminisce with the family about their many outdoor adventures. Ted shared everything with the family including one of the most frightening moments during his service in Korea. Ted had returned from overseas and the youngest boy Carl asked him about having been shot down. Ted spared no details “ I had no navigation, no communications. There I was in the lap of Jesus” as the plane shook and struggled to stay airborne “You S.O.B. don’t let me down!” he growled at the plane demanding it stay together long enough to get him home safely. It did.
As Ted’s baseball career wound down the friendship with the family remained strong. So much so, that Ted enlisted the Lutz’s to help him with the sale of his family home on Utah street, granting Grace Lutz power of attorney to complete the transaction in his absence.
The majority of the collection consists of letters along with their original mailing envelopes written to John Lutz and family while Ted played ball for the Minneapolis Millers in 1938. Ted would dominate just about every offensive category during his single season with the Millers recounting many of his accomplishments (and occasional failure) in the letters. There is also a heavy focus on hunting and fishing as Ted corresponds with John about the upcoming duck season and various fishing trips. The personal nature of these letters cannot be overstated and the provide a small glimpse in the relationship between John and Ted and the passions they both shared.
SCP Auctions and Sotheby’s are extremely pleased to offer the Lutz family collection of Ted Williams correspondence. We share in the family’s wish that the material continues to be enjoyed and preserved in the manner in which they kept it – with love, respect and admiration for their great friend and an American legend.