Arguably the greatest pure hitter of all time, Theodore Samuel “Ted” Williams played 21 seasons in left field for Boston, and is widely regarded as the greatest Red Sox baseball player ever to put on a uniform.
Williams, who was later nicknamed “Teddy Ballgame” or “The Splendid Splinter,” grew up in San Diego, California, and debuted for the Red Sox in 1939 at the age of 20. There is only one trading card from Williams’ rookie season. That Play Ball card, which shows Williams centered in the frame with his eyes focused on the camera while finishing his prototypical swing, is extremely collectible.
A 16-time All Star and two-time American League Most Valuable Player (MVP), Williams quickly established himself as one of baseball’s most feared hitters. In just his third season, Williams had one of the best years in baseball history, hitting .406 with a league-leading 37 homeruns. In fact, Williams’ 1941 season marks the last time a Major League Baseball player batted over .400, which is one reason why his 1941 Play Ball card is one of the most sought-after pieces of baseball memorabilia.
Unfortunately for Williams, his career statistics were not as impressive as they might have been because he missed all or part of five seasons serving as a pilot in the Marine Corps during both World War II and the Korean War. Had he played those five seasons, Williams may have challenged Babe Ruth’s record of 714 homeruns. Instead, he had to settle for 521, but Williams retired with the highest on-base percentage of all time (.483) and the highest batting average (.344) of a player to hit 500 or more homers.
After Williams’ service in World War II, Leaf Gum was the first candy company to release a Williams baseball card—it was part of Leaf’s 1948-1949 set. The brightly colored card shows a stoic Williams in a gray-and-blue flannel uniform set against a red background. It is tough to find this card in high-grade because this particular Leaf set was full of poorly centered cards and had bad print quality. As it turned out, this was the last Williams card Leaf would make—by 1950 the company had been bullied out of the market by Topps and Bowman.
Williams was not included in Bowman’s first two sets of baseball cards in 1948 and 1949, but he was pictured in the 1950 Bowman set when the company upgraded its cards to full color. As was the case with many Williams cards, the Bowman depicted Williams finishing his near-perfect swing, his Hillerich & Bradsby Louisville Slugger bat strewn over his right shoulder.
Williams continued to star for Boston until his retirement in 1960—he went out in style, becoming one of the only players to hit a homerun in his last Major League at-bat. The hi...
Throughout his career Williams was continually compared to New York Yankees’ outfielder Joe DiMaggio as the two starred for rival teams. While they were playing, fans joked that they should be traded for each other because Williams, who hit left-handed, would thrive with the short right field fence at Yankee Stadium, and DiMaggio, who hit right-handed, would excel with Fenway Park’s short porch in left field. In fact, a trade almost happened.
Because of this rivalry, autographed pictures of Williams and DiMaggio together, as well as other memorabilia such as autographed bats of the two players, are very popular items. Short of that iconic object, some collectors have sought autographed copies of the July 8, 1950 edition of “TV Guide,” which featured the pair on the cover.
While Williams’ individual statistics may trump those of DiMaggio, the one thing missing from Williams’ career was a World Series championship, a feat DiMaggio accomplished nine times. Unfortunately Williams passed away in 2002, just two years before his Red Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years.
Williams’ collectibles continue to be some of the most popular baseball artifacts around, and the most popular among retired Red Sox. In addition to trading cards, other prized items are Williams statues, autographed baseballs and bats, and game-used bats, which are noticeably lighter in weight than many other bats—Williams felt that a light bat was key to his quick, compact swing.
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2016 President Election Candidates: Former Homeless Man With Golden Voice ...Latin Post, June 29th
Ted Williams, the former homeless U.S. Army veteran turned Internet sensation, plans to jump into the 2016 presidential race. Williams was first discovered on the streets of Ohio in 2011 by a videographer with The Columbus Dispatch. Back then, he was a ...Read more
Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams and his greatest teamCommunities Digital News, June 29th
Immortal Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams was known for his hitting prowess. He was the last man to bat over .400 in a regular major league baseball season, and he homered on his final at bat; the last of his career total of 521 round trippers...Read more
'Golden Voice' Ted Williams announces presidential aspirationsColumbus Dispatch, June 25th
Ted Williams was propelled into the spotlight in 2011 after he appeared in a video by The Columbus Dispatch panhandling on a highway ramp with a sign advertising his golden voice. The video's millions of views led to national television appearances and ...Read more
No, Ted Williams was not baseball's first Latino superstarSportingNews.com, June 24th
The “outing” of Rachel Dolezal as a white woman placed the complexities of race in the United States in full view of all Americans. Dolezal had lived the past decade as a black woman, taking leadership of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP (a post she ...Read more
Ted Williams was a proud vet, Vet Affairs says he wasn'tOttawa Sun, June 21st
Ted Williams was in the Air Force and always proud of that. He enlisted during the Korean War, in 1951, and stayed until 1974. He was a man with a strong work ethic and a clear vision of what mattered in this world. "For my dad it was always family...Read more
Boston: Ted Williams Tunnel Complete Overnight Lane Closures95.9 WATD-FM (blog), June 16th
Beginning in East Boston, I-90 Westbound traffic will be diverted to the Sumner Tunnel; inside the tunnel, traffic should keep right and take the Storrow Drive ramp to reach Leverett Circle. From there, take I-93 Southbound to access I-90 Westbound. A...Read more
MassDOT Announces Closures In Ted Williams TunnelPatch.com, June 15th
BOSTON- June 15, 2015—This coming Tuesday, June 16 overnight into Wednesday, June 17, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's enhanced maintenance schedule will require complete lane closures of the Ted Williams Tunnel, Interstate 90 ...Read more
Improve your day by watching Ted Williams' swing in slow-moCBSSports.com, June 3rd
We've learned quite a lot about hitting mechanics and swing efficiency over the years. Of course, hitting artisan Ted Williams had all of this and probably more figured out from a very ripe age, and his swing -- the embodiment of "smooth violence" when...Read more