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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Recent News: Ted Williams Memorabilia
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Bergen prosecutor calls TV station fake baseball memorabilia report 'shoddy ...Cliffviewpilot.com, December 18th
Thompson zeroed in on items autographed by Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, the great baseball-collectible trio. He got opinions from two companies — including Spence's JSA. Spence — who had examined Stracher's items years earlier ...Read more
Ted Williams's House Up for Sale in BrightonBoston.com, December 11th
But Forde doesn't actually think Ted Williams has much to do with the house's popularity. “I think it's more just an interesting tidbit,” she said. “There's not a lot of inventory for multi-families at the moment and it's very well maintained.” Forde...Read more
New Projects Launched on Indiegogo, including 'Foolhardy,' 'Ted Williams,' and ...Back Stage, December 1st
Backstage's partnership with Indiegogo has helped raise over $1,082,000 for indie film, theater, and dance productions and web series. Will your project be next? Projects currently included on Backstage's Indiegogo Partner Showcase page include:...Read more
'Golden Voice' Ted Williams Visits The QCAKWQC 6, November 20th
maybe only one paycheck away from being homeless. I want to prevent that.” Williams is also planning on passing out socks to the homeless tomorrow in Davenport. He's fund-raising for his TV show “Second Chance With Ted Williams” on IndieGoGo.com...Read more
Video - Ted Williams, 'The Man With The Golden Voice', Appears Before Going ...Contactmusic.com, November 19th
Ted Williams, an inspiring former homeless voice-over-artist, took a few moments to answer questions and discuss his sobriety outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre, before going on to appear on 'Late Show with David Letterman'. Williams shot to the public...Read more
Ted Williams' 39-0 Still Greatest Record in Boston Sports HistoryBoston.com (blog), November 11th
The myth and legend of Ted Williams cannot compare to the real Ted Williams. No other athlete who has ever played in Boston, including Babe Ruth, has seen his life dissected so much by biographers as Williams. There are several excellent books...Read more
'Golden-voice' man Ted Williams still finding his way, says his future will be ...Today.com, October 27th
Ted Williams, the man rescued from homelessness by his golden voice, knows his past is never far behind him but he's determined to take advantage of the newest chances that continue to fall at his feet...Read more
Once-Homeless 'Golden Voice' Ted Williams Is BrokeNews One, October 8th
Ted Williams (pictured), the once-homeless man who catapulted to stardom with his “Golden Voice,” was discovered by a reporter as he stood panhandling at a highway exit ramp holding a handmade sign that read, “I have a God-given gift of voice. I am an ...Read more