Ted Williams Article

What Does Better Than 20/20 Mean?

20/20 is the standard by which how a “normal” person sees is determined (a.k.a when you stand 20 feet away from an eye chart you can read all the letters perfectly clear). One example of having better than normal vision is 20/10 vision. What it means to have 20/10 vision is that you can see at 20 feet, what a normal person can see at 10 feet from an eye chart! Pretty incredible right? Someone with 20/10 vision must have very small neurological cells (stimulated by lightwaves) in order to be able to distinguish wavelengths from the small letter on an eye chart.

Although almost impossible to have statistically, and with no officially documented “Guinness Book of World Records” holder of best vision, there is one famous person who put this nearly perfect vision to good use: Boston Red Sox player Ted Williams.

Ted Williams’ Incredible Vision

Considered one of the greatest left-handed hitters in baseball history, it wasn’t until 1942, three years after his debut with the Boston Red Sox that it was discovered he had 20/10 vision. This was after a routine medical examination to get into the Navy during WWII.

One myth about his vision was that he could see the laces of a baseball as it hurled toward him from the mound. In an interview with Esquire, Williams confirmed this myth was untrue and said that a baseball “looked like a pea to me comin’ in there once in a while”—in the last 20 feet I could see which way it was spinning.” While the myth is false, his extra visual acuity gave him the razor’s edge to see exactly where to hit a spinning ball. He was able to discern whether the pitch was a fastball or a curve and would not swing at bad pitches. His talent contributed to his yet-unbroken record of base percentage of 0.482.

His vision didn’t just master the game, Williams was also able to tell if the home plate was not level. Williams related one anecdote where this happened at a game in Kansas City. Williams stepped up to the plate for batting practice and instantly felt that something was off. “I felt as if I were hitting uphill,” Williams told the news source. “I told the groundskeeper about it, and the next time we came into Kansas City, it was level. I hit two home runs that day, and when the Kansas City manager learned what had happened, he almost fired the groundskeeper.”

Today more people are investing in getting to that nearly perfect vision with procedures like Visian ICL, Lasik, and others. 

If you’d like to see if your vision comes close to 20/10, call us today at (815) 932-2020 to schedule your next comprehensive eye exam.