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 Playball #92 Ted Williams Rc Rookie Hof Boston Red Sox Psa 5 Ex1954 Bowman #66 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Psa 7 Nm " The Rarity "Joe Dimaggio / Mickey Mantle / Ted Williams 8x10 Signed Framed Photograph1939 Playball Play Ball #92 Ted Williams Hof Rc Rookie Sgc Auth " No Creases "1969 Topps Baseball Card Blank Back Uncut Sheet Of 132 - Nolan Ryan Ted WilliamsTed Williams / Stan Musial / Willie Mays - 8x10 Photo - Auto Signed - Psa / Dna2009 Ultimate Joe Dimaggio Ted Williams Yogi Berra Lou Boudreau 8x Jersey #/20Joe Dimaggio & Ted Williams 8 X 10 Autographed Photo Gai Certified2009 Ultimate Legendary Eight Jersey 33/35 - Joe Dimaggio Ted Williams EtcTed Williams Signed Red Sox 7x9 Page Huge Autograph Baseball Hof Psa Loa B90143Ted Williams Bill Terry Ron Lewis Signed Framed 8x10 Photo Psa/dna #e46453Ted Williams Signed Autographed Baseball Mint Condition Authenticating ReceiptTed Williams No Reserve Psa Loa Graded Autographed Signed Bobby Brown Auto Dna1955 Topps Baseball #2 Ted Williams Card - Sgc 60 Ex 5 - Red Sox Hall Of Famer1954 Topps #250 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Sgc 30 Good 2Stunning Condition Late 1960's Ted Williams Baseball Glove Mitt New Old Stock !!1959 Fleer Ted Williams/babe Ruth #2 Baseball Card Psa Grade 8 Nm-mt Cond "rare"1951 Bowman #165 Ted Williams2015 Gypsy Queen Ted Williams Mini Variation Framed Magenta Press Plate 1/1Stunning Condition Late 1960's Ted Williams Baseball Glove New Old Stock W/ BookTed Williams 2013 Topps Tribute Game-used Bat Relic #38/99 Red SoxTed Williams Signed Autographed Baseball With Coa1955 Topps #2 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Sgc 50 Vg-ex 41958 Topps 485 Ted Williams As Psa 5 Ex + 1960 Fleer 72 Psa 4 Vg-ex ~ Centered!1955 Topps 2 Ted Williams "red Sox Legend" Wonderful Card Here1950 Bowman #98 Ted Williams 1940 Play Ball Ted Williams #27 **autographed**1956 Topps Set Break # 5 - Ted Williams Vg-vgex H30571Vintage Color Photo Of Ted Williams Autographed 8x10 W/ Coa #815 Boston Red SoxAutographed Ted Williams The End Of An Era Signed Lithograph Lewis Watkins A/pRay Nitschke 1994 Ted Williams #22 Signed Autographed Card Jsa Certified Auto1958 Topps Ted Williams #1 Bvg Beckett Nm-mt 8 Low Pop 5Ted Williams Joe Di Maggio Signed 8x10 Photo Gai CertifiedHall Of Fame Vintage Card Lot (19) Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Nolan Ryan ++Vintage 1954 Ted Williams Topps Card 250 HofTed Williams Original Hartland1957 Topps #1 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Graded Bvg 5 Excellent Ex Not Psa Vintage Color Photo Of Ted Williams Autographed 8x10 W/ Coa #816 Boston Red SoxTed Williams Signed Envelope--hof--red SoxTed Williams Hof 1951 Bowman # 165 - Sgc 401958 Topps Set Break # 1 Ted Williams Ex-exmint I3678Ted Williams Beautifully Autographed & Framed Litho/print In A 5x7 Frame1957 Topps Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Low Grade Nice For Any Collection1954 Topps Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Great Color Slight Crease Price To Sell1951 Boston Red Sox Yearbook "best Cond Ever" Ted Williams & Co. No Reserve!!1953 Canadian Exhibits Ted Williams Red Sox Psa 7 Very Low PopTed Williams Boston Red Sox Jersey 1939 Xl Size 48 New Stiched Special Edition1939-46 Salutation Exhibit Card - Ted Williams #9 Shows - Hall Of Fame Player1994 Ted Williams Hark Aaron Autograph #1 Jsa Auth2005 Sweet Spot Classic Materials Ted Williams Sp Jersey Game Used Authentic HkPhoto Signed Certified,mickey Mantle,stan Musial&ted Williams,coa!!read Discript∎ 1951 Bowman Baseball Card Ted Williams #165 **near-mint**Ted Williams Signed Autographed Baseball With Coa1956 Topps Ted Williams Psa 6 Ex-mt 2008 Topps Triple Threads Booklet Hof Ted Williams Multi Jersey 1/9 Red Sox1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 Sgc 7 (nm) 84 Hof Boston Red SoxSporting Life Bb "mini Die-cut Stand-up Store Ad Display" With Ted WilliamsTopps 1958 #1 – Ted Williams!! Nice!! Beautiful Picture And Gloss!! Bv = $600!Ted Williams Signed Autographed Baseball A. L. Ball 1955 Topps #2 Ted Williams "good" Boston

Recent News: Ted Williams Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Troopers find man lost in wall of Ted Williams Tunnel
Boston Globe (subscription), April 21st

A Somerville man found inside the walls of the Ted Williams Tunnel allegedly told investigators that he had no idea how he got there, and that he may have been drugged. State Police say they charged Daniel Kelly, 27, with trespassing after a bizarre...Read more

On the Internet, Illegal Trade In Endangered Wildlife Thrives
Yale Environment 360, April 20th

On eBay and elsewhere on the Internet, illegal wildlife and wildlife parts — from elephant ivory to tiger skins to monkey and crocodile skulls — are being sold. Bringing an end to this illicit activity is proving to be a daunting challenge. by ted...Read more

When Ted Williams played ball in Charlotte
Charlotte Observer (blog), April 18th

The most memorable of the four games involved Ted Williams, who was then 38 years old and already a baseball legend. He could still play, too – Williams would hit .388 that season. Williams' presence was highly anticipated, getting good coverage in The ...Read more

Ted Williams Hammond
Columbia Daily Herald, April 13th

Services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at Lexington United Methodist Church with Kenny Baskins and Samuel Hayes officiating. Burial will follow at Pettus Cemetery in Lexington, Ala. Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at Lexington United Methodist...Read more

Albert Pujols hits 522nd home run to pass Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, Frank ...
FOXSports.com, April 12th

The Kansas City Royals completed another three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. Unlike last October, there was no champagne sprayed in the clubhouse -- just a fervent resolve to prove that last year's trip to the World Series wasn't a fluke...Read more

Albert Pujols ties Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, and Frank Thomas on career ...
NBCSports.com, April 8th

That's the 521st career dinger for Pujols, who has moved into a tie with Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, and Frank Thomas on the all-time career home run leadearboard. Next for Pujols to catch is Jimmie Foxx (534) and then Mickey Mantle (536)...Read more

Boston Red Sox: 9 times legend Ted Williams was an evil hitting genius
FOXSports.com, April 7th

He'd last only a few seasons as a manager with Washington and Texas, but in that time he did what he loved the most --€“ talking hitting with anyone who loved it like he did. Williams was one of the greatest hitters of all time, a true genius with a...Read more

Timothy Hutton's Dad Got A Letter From Ted Williams - And It's Pretty Sweet
Boston.com (blog), April 2nd

Academy-Award winning actor Timothy Hutton has the proof in a letter Ted Williams wrote to his father back in 1950. Hutton, currently starring in the ABC drama "American Crime," is a proud Red Sox fan living in New York. "It's challenging at times," he...Read more