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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1939 Play Ball #92 Ted Williams Red Sox Rc Rookie Hof Psa 6 Ex-mt 1941 Play Ball Ted Williams #14 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1954 Topps Ted Williams #1 Sgc 9/96 Mint (pwcc)1954 Topps Ted Williams #250 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)2014 Panini Classics Ted Williams Triple 3x Bat Barrel Jersey Patch 8/10 Sp Hof1955 Topps Ted Williams #2 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)2015 Topps Tier One Ted Williams Bat Knob 1/1 Amazing2012 Prime Cuts Ted Williams Jersey Relic /5 Game Used Patch 2 Color "thumper"1955 Topps Ted Williams - #2 ~ Nm/mt ~ Hof ~ Red SoxTed Williams Signed Autographed Authentic Jersey Psa/dna #g59363 Boston Red Sox2005 Ud Ultimate Triple Babe Ruth Jimmie Foxx Ted Williams Bat Jersey Hof /151940 Play Ball Ted Williams #27 Sgc 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)Hofers Signed Autographed Ball Baseball By 6 Jsa Joe Dimaggio Ted Williams Reese1955 Topps Baseball Ted Williams Card #2 Graded Psa 6 Ex-mt Clean Great Shape!Ted Williams 1950 Bowman #98 - Boston Red Sox - Breathtaking!!! Sharp!!!1941 Play Ball Ted Williams #14 Bvg 5.5 Ex+ (pwcc)Ted Williams Autographed Signed Game H&b Mlb Ball Bat Red Sox Uda Gd Coa Gm 102005 Ted Williams Upper Deck Classic Cuts Autograph Card Ud Auto Signature #/3Vintage Wilson Sf Ted Williams Model A2210 Large Baseball Glove, Hof, Nice! Vintage 1959 Fleer Factory Sealed Ted Williams 5 Cent Baseball Card Wax Pack1954 Topps Ted Williams #250 ... Graded Sgc 82 (6.5)1956 Topps Ted Williams #5 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)1967 Topps Venezuelan Ted Williams #148 ... Graded Sgc 20 (1.5)1954 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1950 Bowman Ted Williams #98 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)Gfa Ted Williams & Mickey Mantle Autographed 8x10 - Coa 1956 Topps Ted Williams #5 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1954 Topps Ted Williams #250 Sgc 7/84 Nrmt (pwcc)1954 Topps Ted Williams #250 Boston Red Sox Bvg 6 Ex-mt Not Psa Nr1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1939 - 46 Salutation Exhibits Ted Williams Near Mint1954 Ted Williams Topps, #1, Psa 41957 Topps #1 Ted Williams VgexTed Williams/ Stan Musial/ Willie Mays Autographed 8x10 Photo....certified1954 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1951 Bowman 165 Ted Williams Sgc Authentic Hof2013 Topps Five Star Ty Cobb Ted Williams Legends Dual Bat Card 3/10Mickey Mantle And Ted Williams Autograph Showcase With Certified Autos 1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1956 Topps Ted Williams White Back #5 Sgc 7/84 Nrmt (pwcc)1955 Topps Double Headers Ted Williams & Hal Smith #69/70 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)Autographed Mickey Ted Williams Joe Dimaggio Custom Framed Showcase $2,499 Ltd!500 Home Run Club Multi Signed Print Auto W/ Mickey Mantle Ted Williams Jsa LoaTed Williams Autographed Rawlings Oal Baseball- Jsa Loa1951 Wheaties Ted Williams Psa 9 Mint (pwcc)Ted Williams 1957 Topps #1 - Boston Red Sox - Outstanding!!! Sharp!!!Ted Williams 1991 Ud Baseball Heroes #36 Red Sox Auto 985/2500Ted Williams Joe Dimaggio 8x10 Glossy Photo Signed Auto Authenticated W/ Coa2005 Prime Cuts Timeline Material #16 Ted Williams Hof Bat Bgs 9.5 W/ 10 38/501960 Fleer Baseball Greats #72 - Ted Williams Autograph Card1948 Leaf Ted Williams #76 Psa 3.5 Vg+ (pwcc)Jimmy Foxx Mickey Mantle Ted Williams Hof Signed Ball1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 Bvg 6.5 Exmt+ (pwcc)Ted Williams Signed Autographed Baseball Tristar Hidden Treasure Ball Jsa Y030181955 Topps Ted Williams #2 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1954 Topps #250 Ted Williams (hof) Psa Ex 5, Smr $285, No Reserve, $0.99 Start1956 Topps Ted Williams White Back #5 Psa 6.5 Exmt+ (pwcc)1956 Topps Ted Williams Boston Red Sox #5 Bvg 5 Ex NrMickey Mantle Ted Williams Autographed Picture-gai1958 Topps Ted Williams All-star #485 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)

Recent News: Ted Williams Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Ted Williams Enters Race For U.S. Presidency
10TV, July 3rd

One of the surprise entries in the race for the White House hails from Columbus. You may remember the first time you saw former radio announcer Ted Williams. He had fallen into homelessness because of drug addiction. A Columbus Dispatch reporter found ...Read more

Former homeless man with 'golden voice' enters presidential race
USA TODAY, June 29th

The "golden voice" is adding his name to the long list of presidential hopefuls. Ted Williams, a formerly homeless man who rose to stardom for his deep voice, will run as an independent candidate for the 2016 election. Williams, 57, reached fame after...Read more

Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams and his greatest team
Communities 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 aspirations
Columbus 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 superstar
SportingNews.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't
Ottawa 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 Closures
95.9 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 Tunnel
Patch.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