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    

2014 Topps Triple Threads Ted Williams Gu Bat "avg + Pwr" Red Sox 9/271940 Play Ball Set Break # 27 Ted Williams Poor (creased) D24575Ted Williams Autographed Baseball Psa 7.5 Loa Sealed Single Signed Sweet SpotTed Williams Signed Autograph Hof Metallic Plaque Card Auto Psa/dna Auth (pwcc)Ted Williams Signed Autograph Hof Metallic Plaque Card Auto Psa/dna Auth (pwcc)ˆ1956 Topps #5 Ted Williams Gray Back Psa 5.5 Ex+ Boston Red Sox1954 Bowman #66 Ted Williams Hof Boston Red Sox " The Rarity " Paper Loss1967 Venezuela Topps Ted Williams #148 Retirado Psa 1 (pr) Hof Red Sox (w&w)2014 Topps Triple Threads Ted Williams Game Used Legends Bat #07/36 Red Sox1940 Play Ball Ted Williams Red Sox #27 Ex Psa 5!!1956 Topps Baseball Set Break Up Number 5 Ted Williams Boston Red SoxTopps Sterling Ted Williams Cherry Wood 1/12014 Topps Triple Threads Bat Relic Game-used Ted Williams 10/181958 Topps #1 Ted Williams Psa 7 Nm Boston Red SoxTed Williams 9/15 Jersey# $400+ Red Sox Hof Game Used Patch 2005 Ud Hall Of FameTed Williams Signed Autographed Postcard Auto Psa/dna Auth (pwcc)1951 Sport Magazine Bound Volume 12 Issues Nice! Ted Williams Yogi Berra Etc.Ted Williams, Autographed 8x10, Gai Certified1944-46 Baseball Magazine Bound Volume 36 Issues Nice! Ted Williams Feller Foxx2014 Topps Triple Threads Legends Ted Williams Gold 9 Bat 3/91959 Fleer #68 Ted Williams Ted Signs For 1959 Sp Psa 4 Red Sox Psa4 Rare Beauty1957 Topps #1 Ted WilliamsTed Williams Signed Autograph 1989 Postcard Auto, Jsa Sgc Auth (pwcc)1958 Topps Setbreak #485 Ted Williams Hof Boston Red Sox Psa 7 Nm1951 Bowman #165 Ted Williams !!!!2012 Panini Prime Cuts Ted Williams Timeline Triple Game Used Jacket Jersey /251957 Topps Ted Williams #1 - Ex1958 Topps Baseball Cards #1 Ted Williams - Boston Red Sox Hof Vg1959 Fleer Ted Williams Set - 2 €1985 Original Photo Ted Williams, Bobby Orr & Rico Petiocelli Red Sox & BruinsTed Williams 521 Hand Signed Rawlings Official American League Baseball1955 Topps Ted Williams #2 Boston Red Sox CrispMickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams Autographed Showcase Gfa Certified 1949 Louisville Famous Slugger Baseball Yearbook - Stan Musial Ted WilliamsTed Williams 9/25 Jersey # Sapphire Parallel 2014 Topps Triple Threads Red SoxTed Williams Signed Oal Baseball Psa/dna Auto Da008534August 23 1955 -red Sox Vs Indians (3) Tickets Mint & Program - Ted Williams Hr1948 R346 Blue Tint Ted Williams Hand Cut No # Psa Authentic1987 Perez-steele Great Moments Ted Williams Hof Signed Auto Psa/dna 9 Mint1961 Topps Ted Williams Card Never Made Mt2005 Prime Cuts Ted Williams Quad Bat Jacket Jersey X2 #d 06/50Lot Of (41) Different 1951 Bowman Cards Partial Set W/ Ted Williams Bv- $1785Vintage Ted Williams Genuine Saddle Leather Embossed Wallet Boston Redsox2006 Topps Triple Threads Ted Williams Authentic Piece Of Bat #7/181951 Bowman Baseball #165 Ted Williams Sgc 86 Nm+ 7.5 Hof Red Sox Stunning!Scarce 1957 Fenway Park Boston Red Sox Team Pennant - Ted Williams1954 Topps Sgc Lot W/ #1 Ted Williams - #90 Willie MaysTed Williams Auto Signed Autographed Adirondack Baseball Bat Coa Reference.com1946 Liberty Magazine - Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Baseball1952 Topps Retro Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Signed Auto Psa/dna2002 Ted Williams Game Used Bat /50 Donruss Classic Singles Cs-5 Red Sox 1955 Topps #2 Ted Williams - Off-grade Card With Mk, Wrinkles, The WorksSigned Ted Williams Cachet Gateway Stamp Collection AutographRare 1983 Ted Williams Signed Donruss Baseball Card Boston Red Sox Graded CoaTed Williams Hof Boston Red Sox 8x10 Color Photo Signed Auto Jsa Loa1950 R423 #113 Ted Williams Psa 9 (mc) Mint1956 Topps Baseball #5 Ted Williams White Back Sgc 70 Ex+ 5.5 Hof Red Sox1958 Topps #321-"sluggers Surpreme"(ted Williams & Ted Kluszewski)!!ex/mt!!1954 Topps Ted Williams #250 Card

Recent News: Ted Williams Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Ted Williams Parkway Pedestrian Bridge Is Now Open
NBC 7 San Diego, September 4th

It may have taken more than a decade but residents in one San Diego community can now say they built a bridge. The pedestrian bridge over Ted Williams Parkway at Shoal Creek Drive opened Thursday after years of negotiation and planning. In the time it ...Read more

Nine to Know: Red Sox Stats Pack #9 Ted Williams Edition
Boston.com, August 29th

In 1941, Ted Williams hit .401. Brock Holt leads the Sox in batting this season at .291. If you don't think that provides enough perspective. That season, Williams slugged .735. Holt is slugging .390 and David Ortiz is slugging .523. Ponder those...Read more

Red Sox Notes: David Ortiz Joins Ted Williams, Johnny Damon With Feats
NESN.com, August 20th

The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park. Clay Buchholz imploded in the fifth inning, though, and the Sox walked away 8-3 losers. The Red Sox have lost four straight and five of their last six. They...Read more

Father passes down hitting knowledge from Ted Williams
spiritofjefferson (blog), August 20th

A lot of what he's teaching us is what he learned in his short time with Ted Williams. I think we're getting some pretty good instruction to learn from my dad, who learned from a Hall of Famer of that caliber.” Gallo hit a soaring two-run homer to give...Read more

Claudia Williams: Ted Williams Always Kept Jimmy Fund Near Heart (Video)
NESN.com, August 19th

Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams was a key component of the Jimmy Fund during the charity's early days in the late 1940s. His daughter, Claudia Williams, recently wrote a book called “Ted Williams, My Father: A Memoir” where she tells many stories ...Read more

D&H - Claudia Williams, daughter of Ted Williams
WEEI.com, August 19th

Autographed Ted williams' bat that we got to very nice amount of money for it was donated by the Ted Williams museum. And by this person who like I met at the tradition a number of years ago and got a chance to get re equated with today -- daughter...Read more

BOOK NOOK: If Ted Williams had never existed, we'd have to invent him
Tonawanda News, August 18th

There are likely thousands of American men who lived the kind of macho, swaggering, exacting, heroic, achievement-filled lives John Wayne only portrayed in the movies. One was Ted Williams, among the best three or so hitters in baseball's long history...Read more

David Ortiz joins Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski in 400 club
Boston Herald, August 16th

Ortiz went 3-for-5 with six RBI, and joined Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452) as the only players with 400 or more home runs in a Red Sox uniform. His two-dinger night helped erase De La Rosa's struggles in a 10-7 victory over the Houston ...Read more