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    

2015 National Treasures Ted Williams /5 Souvenir Cuts Auto Red Sox #’d 4/5 Ssp!1939 Play Ball #92 Ted Williams Rookie Hof Red Sox Psa 2 *5861131939 Play Ball Ted Williams Psa 21992 Upper Deck Heroes Ted Williams Auto /2500 #36 Sgc Auth (pwcc)Vintage 1940s Wilson Ted Williams Split Finger Baseball Glove Antique Old1948 Leaf #76 Ted Williams Red Sox Psa 3 *586115500 Home Run Club Mickey Mantle Ted Williams Autographed Photo Coa 9 Others500 Home Run Club Signed Baseball Mickey Mantle Ted Williams Aaron +8 Gfa CoaTed Williams Signed 35" Louisville Slugger Bat Auto Autograph Green Diamond Coa1954 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 5 Ex *high End*Roger Staubach 1994 Ted Williams Co Auto #200 Autograph Cowboys Sp1948 Leaf Baseball Card #76 Ted Williams1969 Signed Ted Williams "my Turn At Bat" Autographed Book, Mint Signature Jsa1940 Play Ball #27 Ted Williams Red Sox Psa 4.5 *5867091999 Ud A Piece Of History 500 Hr Club Ted Williams Bat Patch Bgs 9.5 Gem (pwcc)Ted Williams Single Signed Baseball Auto Autograph Jsa Loa Boston Red Sox HofAutographed Mickey Mantle And Ted Williams Signed Photo By Coa / Gfa CertifiedTed Williams 1956 Topps #5 - Boston Red Sox - Breathtaking!!! Sharp!!!Ted Williams Signed 1989 Gartlan Statue 8" Auto 1702/2654 Autograph W/ Coa Hof1940 Play Ball Ted Williams1956 Topps #5 Ted Williams Psa 6 Exmt Boston Red Sox White Back1987 Perez Steele Gm, #13, Ted Williams, Auto, Psa/dna, Mint 91949 R302-2 M.p. & Co. #101 Ted Williams Red Sox Psa 4 *586116Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, & Ted Williams Autographed Centerpiece With Coa/gfa1958 Topps Break 1 Ted Williams Red Sox Psa 5Ted Williams And Joe Dimaggio Autographed Rawlings Baseball Gfa Certified1958 Topps Ted Williams Baseball Card #1 ***mint Card*** Outstanding Wow2005 Donruss Leather & Lumber Ted Williams 3-clr Patch /5 #n-21 (pwcc)1949 Ted Williams (all-star Baseball Gum) Card, Leaf Gum Co.1954 Topps # 250 Ted Williams1958 Topps Break 485 Ted Williams As Nm/mt+1954 Topps #1 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Psa 6 Ex-mt " Pack Fresh " Stan Musial / Ted Williams Signed 8x10 Autographed Cardinals Baseball Photo Stm1951 Bowman Ted Williams #165 Sgc 60Roger Staubach 1994 Ted Williams Co Autograph Auto #/200 Sp Cowboys 1958 Al All Stars Signed Baseball Coin Bank Berra Ted Williams Mickey Mantle FoxTed Williams 1955 Topps #2 Boston Red Sox Psa 6Ted Williams 1957 Topps #1 - Boston Red Sox - Nrmint!!! Phenomenal!!!1956 Topps Set Break # 5 - Ted Williams Psa 6 Ex-mt O20467 Bh1Frank Robinson /mickey Mantle / Ted Williams Signed 8x10 Photo... Certified1954 Topps Ted WilliamsRoger Staubach 1994 Ted Williams Company Auto Autograph (cowboys) #94/2001959 Fleer Ted Williams #2 Ted's Idol - Babe Ruth - Psa 8 Nr Mt-mt1956 Topps #5 Ted Williams Psa 7 Set Break1951 Bowman #165 Ted Williams - Boston Red Sox1958 Topps Baseball #1 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Psa 5 Ex Centered Tough Card!Ted Williams Joe Dimaggio Dual Signed 8x10 Certified By Gfa Coa Autograph Auto1955 Topps Baseball Card - Ted Williams #2 Hof (sgc 50 Vg/ex)Early 1960 Sears Vending Bio Print Card Ted Williams Rare Auto Pass Psa/dna Jsa1959 Fleer Ted Williams Story-8 Different Cards-#'s 8-71 Ex To Ex/mt+1954 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 2.5T170 Ted Williams 1939-46 Exhibits Card Sgc 60 Ex 5 # 9 Not Showing [2012 National Treasures Booklet Ted Williams Hof Jumbo Jersey 5/10Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams, Musial Full Jsa Autographed BaseballMickey Mantle Ted Williams Frank Robinson Signed 8x10 Cert Gfa Coa AutographTed Williams 2005 Tools Of The Trade Quad Game Used Jersey Bat Sp/9 Rare Hof1954 Topps # 1 Ted WilliamsTed Williams Signed 8x10 Photo Boston Red Sox Scoreboard CoaLot Of 3 Different 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Cards Charles Barkley 1994 Ted Williams Roger Staubachs Nfl Auto Card 16/34

Recent News: Ted Williams Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Halladay targets PED users at Ted Williams Hall event, February 6th

ST. PETERSBURG — Roy Halladay was thrilled along with the other honorees at Saturday's Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame induction, more so since he was a pitcher. Related News/Archive. Trammell honored by induction into Ted Williams Hitters Hall of ...Read more

MLB: Former Astros pitcher Billy Wagner to be inducted into Ted Williams Hall ...
Your Houston News, February 5th

Officially, Wagner will become a member of the Ted Williams Pitching Hall of Great Achievement at the Hall of Fame, which is located inside Tropicana Field. Also being inducted as part of the Class of 2016 on Saturday are RHP Roy Halladay, OF Dante ...Read more

Trammell honored by induction into Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame, February 4th

And Saturday, his career will come full circle in a way, as he will be at Tropicana Field for induction — as part of the Dinner with Chris Archer & Friends event — into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. "That's very cool," said Trammell, soon to...Read more

A-Rod pulls out of Ted Williams event; limited tickets remain (blog), February 2nd

Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez will skip his Saturday induction into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame at Tropicana Field, pulling out due to a conflict with a Super Bowl-related event in California. Rodriguez, who taped an acceptance speech, is...Read more

The 52: Ted Williams goes 6-for-8 to finish at .406
The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 22nd

This is No. 49 in our yearlong countdown of the most memorable moments in San Diego sports history. Read more about “The 52” here. It happened on a Sunday in Philadelphia. The day before, Ted Williams went 1-for-4 at the plate. The Red Sox left fielder ...Read more

Ted Williams, Man With The Golden Voice, Returns To Old Radio Job Five Years ...
News One, January 19th

Ted Williams, Man With The Golden Voice, Returns To Old Radio Job Five Years After Viral Video. Williams became famous five years ago when a viral video showed off his "golden voice." Written By Desire Thompson. 3 weeks ago. Leave a comment. 10.18K ...Read more

A-Rod, Trammell, Halladay, Wagner amond Ted Williams honorees (blog), January 17th

6 Ted Williams Museum induction dinner at the Trop, hosted by Rays ace Chris Archer. Rodriguez, Trammell and Bichette will be inducted into the Hitter's Hall of Fame, Halladay and Wagner honored on the Pitching Wall of Great Achievement. Eiland, a long ...Read more

Five years after viral video, 'Golden Voice' Ted Williams is back on radio
Fox 59, January 16th

COLUMBUS, Ohio (January 16, 2016) — Five years after a homeless man's silky voice won him Internet fame, he's on the air again at the same Ohio radio station where he began his career before addiction pushed him to the streets. The Columbus Dispatch ...Read more