Baseball Great Ted Williams' Treasures to be Auctioned; Daughter Speaks on Cryonics Controversy

Auction of baseball great Ted Williams' memorabilia set to begin in late April.

April 9, 2012, 1:14 PM

April 10, 2012— -- It is an auction that will make sports memorabilia collectors gasp in anticipation and scream with joy. For sale, for the first time ever, are items from the personal collection of Red Sox great Ted Williams -- possibly the greatest hitter who ever lived, an American legend and American hero, but also an American enigma.

"I know this might sound biased -- I am his daughter and he was my dad -- but he was an amazing man, amazing," says Claudia Williams, 40, in an interview with ABC News at Boston's Fenway Park. This is one of the only times she has spoken to the media since the controversial death of her father nearly 10 years ago.

The auction, scheduled for April 28 at Fenway, features the Splendid Splinter's 1949 Most Valuable Player Award (valued at $250,000), his Hall of Fame induction ring ($50,000), even a ball given to Ted Williams by Babe Ruth (valued at $200,000).

The ball was the only autograph her father ever asked for; it's inscribed,"To my pal Ted Williams, From Babe Ruth."

"And,'' said Claudia Williams,"great story behind this ball is that particular saying, 'To my pal,' (it) so influenced my dad at the time that every time he signed a ball to kids, he would sign it 'Your Pal, Ted Williams.'"

PHOTOS: Ted Williams' Personal Collection Goes to Auction

In a way, Claudia Williams hopes the sale of these heirlooms will help turn focus to the rich life of the baseball great, rather than his death.

"I think it's more of a reflection of the person themselves if they choose to remember Ted Williams for what happened or what his family chose to do together after his death," says Claudia Williams, who now works as a physical therapist in Florida.

It was what the family chose to do that made headlines in the summer of 2002. After the death of Williams that year, his body was taken to Arizona to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. The company preserves bodies at ultra-cold temperatures -- 321 degrees below zero -- in the hope that someday medical science may be able to cure what killed them, and that the bodies can brought back to life.

"We did this together because it made us feel like it had something of hope," says Claudia Williams, "That's all. A hope."

She points out that her father had a life-long obsession with science. Indeed, he authored what is considered one of the definitive blueprints for baseball success, "The Science of Hitting."

"My dad was a man of science," Williams says. "He wasn't a religious man. I can't apologize for that. He didn't believe in god. He believed in science."

She believes ridiculing their decision is like attacking someone's religious faith.

"It's not unlike a choice of religion," she says. "I wish that could just be appreciated for that simple fact alone."

Claudia Williams says she shares her father's infamous mistrust of the media, and resents the spate of coverage and tidal wave of jokes that came at her father's expense.

"I do take it personally," she says, "I am fiercely protective of my family."

Claudia Williams Takes Aim at Alcor Ex-Employee's Accusations

And she has particularly seething anger towards one man, Larry Johnson, a former employee at Alcor who wrote a book, "Frozen," three years ago, alleging mistreatment of Ted Williams' body at Alcor.

In 2009, Johnson told "Nightline" that Williams' head remained in a malfunctioning machine for more than a year.

"They put his head into a vessel called the Cryo-star, which is really not meant for freezing human heads, OK? It was faulty, they didn't know how to use it ... It was malfunctioning. The temperatures were -- there were some very dramatic swings."

At the time, "Nightline" found part of his account seemed to be incorrect. And in February, as part of a confidential legal settlement with Alcor, Johnson recanted parts of the book. Alcor provided ABC News with part of a statement made by Johnson in that confidential settlement:

"My account of the Ted Williams cryopreservation, which was not based upon my first-hand observation as noted in my book, is contradicted by information furnished by ALCOR. I am not now certain that Ted Williams' body was treated disrespectfully, or that any procedures were performed without authorization or conducted poorly."

Neither Johnson nor his attorneys responded to ABC News' request for comment.

Claudia Williams wants to put that all behind her and move on. "Everything that we did, we did as a family and we did it with love and there were very good intentions," she says.

The auction, conducted by Hunt Auctions, is one way to reclaim Ted Williams' legacy. The items for sale offer an unprecedented view of Williams' accomplishments.

"He couldn't touch anything without being excellent at it," says Claudia.

He was a legendary fisherman who tied his own flies. (Claudia says the nickname he gave her was "Blond Bomber," after a fly he liked to use fishing in Canada).

Williams was also, quite literally, an American hero, a fighter pilot shot down during the Korean War.

The auction will feature memorabilia from his fishing life, and his military career. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Jimmy Fund, one of Ted Williams' favorite charities, which is devoted to cancer research and treatment. It also includes letters from U.S. presidents who revered the ballplayer.

Claudia Williams remembered a meeting with President George H.W. Bush, who seemed flat-out giddy to meet her father.

"He was so excited to meet my dad," she recalls, "He walks right up to Dad, and gives him a bear hug."

With the auction, it is that Ted Williams she hopes the world will see.

"I'd like them, ideally, to recognize what a great man he was," she says. "Not just a baseball player, but American hero."

PHOTOS: See Items From Ted Williams' Personal Collection Up for Auction

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