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    

Ted Williams #7 Sketch Card 9/9 Limited Mlb Boston Red Sox Signed Edward VelaJsa 1946 Al Champs Boston Red Sox Ted Williams Joe Cronin + 19 Signed Baseball Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams Autographed 11"x14" Sepia Photo Jsa Vintage Ted Williams Sears Model Glove W/ Original Box , Boston Red Sox HofOriginal 1954 Bowman Baseball #66 Ted Williams Red Sox Nice!Ted Williams Autographed Signed Baseball *****jsa***** Mickey Mantle Multi Signed Baseball 4 Auto 's W/ Clubhouse Ted Williams Jsa LoaMickey Mantle - Joe Dimaggio - Ted Williams Autographed Signed Ball **psa/dna**Ted Williams 1957 Topps #1 - Boston Red Sox - Phenomenal!!! Sharp!!!Ted Williams (red Sox) Deceased Signed Official American League Baseball CoaMickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams Autographed Showcase Gfa Certified (2) 1954 Bowman Baseball Cards #66 Ted Williams Jimmy Piersall Rare!1964 Ted Williams Red Sox Signed Auto Autographed Hof Yellow Postcard Psa/dna1948 Leaf Ted Williams #76 Red Sox Psa 2 Good1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 6 Ex-mt++ Centered1959 Fleer Ted Williams 66 Card Lot, Near Complete!! Rare Estate Sale Find1941 Play Ball Ted Williams #14 Bvg Bgs 1.5 RareVintage Authentic Autographed Baseball Hall Of Fame Postcard Ted Williams1987 Perez-steele Great Moments Ted Williams Signed Auto /5000 Psa/dna 8 Nm-mt1959 Fleer Ted Williams #68 Ted Signs For 1959 " The Rarity " Psa 7 Centered1955 Topps #2 Ted Williams Red Sox Psa 5 *4866172008 Topps Triple Threads Booklet Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Multi Jersey 3/18Ted Williams Signed 1994 Bank Check Auto Framed 9.5x11 W/ Postcard Jsa Loa Hof1947 Ultimate Team Signed Boston Red Sox Baseball Ted Williamsˆ1955 Topps Double Headers #69/70 Ted Williams Psa 4 Hof Red SoxMickey Mantle And Ted Williams Autograph Showcase With Certified AutosMickey Mantle & Ted Williams Autographed Centerpiece With Gfa Certification ˆ1956 Topps Ted Williams #5 Set Break No Creases Book Value $500 Boston Red Sox1960 Fleer #72 Ted Williams Auto Great Signature!!2014 Topps Stadium Club Baseball 1/1 Blank Back. Ted Williams Red SoxMickey Mantle + Ted Williams Dual Signed Official Al Baseball - Loa W/ Hologram1951 Bowman #165 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Psa 2 Good2006 Upper Deck Epic Joe Dimaggio/ted Williams Bat/jersey /45Ted Williams Player Signed Autograph Auto 1983 DonrussTed Williams Uda Sports Illustrated Cover Upper Deck Hologram AutographedTed Williams Autographed Baseball ˆ1958 Topps Ted Williams Boston Red Sox # 1 ExTed Williams 1955 Topps Baseball Card #2 Boston Red Sox Rare L@@kTed Williams 1956 Topps #5 - Boston Red Sox - No Creases!!! Wonderful!!!Ted Williams Autographed ***** 1941 .406 Season ***** Stat Plaque 1983 Jsa Original 1958-1962 Red Sox Ted Williams Hartland Statue-nice!1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 - Boston Red Sox - Vg+/vgex - Cs27111948 Swell Sport Thrills #16 Ted Williams New York Yankees Sgc 10 Poor 1Lot Of (4) Psa Graded 1971 Topps Cards - Garvey Rc, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams1954 Topps Ted Williams #1 Card Vg/ex ConditionTed Williams Signed Baseball No Coa1955 Topps Ted Williams #2 Set Break Light Crease Book Value $700 Boston Red Sox1950's Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Colorful 45 Rpm Baseball Record Unplayed!1951 Bowman Ted Williams # 1651971 Topps Ted Williams Senators #380 Psa 8 Nm-mt Perfect Centering, Sharp Framed Ted Williams Signed 8x10 Photo W/mickey Mantle Psa/dna Auto #529/10001957 Topps Set Break # 1 Ted Williams Ex-exmint E32598 1957 Topps #1 Ted Williams Psa 3 Red Sox Hof!! 1958 Topps Ted Williams #1 - Boston Red Sox - Ex (centered) - Cs2971957 Topps #1 Ted Williams Hof Boston Red Sox Psa 3 Vg1955 55 Topps #2 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Hof Vintage Must See Photo!Authentic Ted Williams Signed Autographed Bobby Brown Baseball-coa- Hof Red Sox

Recent News: Ted Williams Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Man who drove Ted Williams on golf cart at '99 All-Star game dies
Eagle-Tribune, October 24th

During the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, Forester escorted Ted Williams onto and off of the field during pregame ceremonies. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. at Lane's Funeral Home in Winchester on Wednesday, October 29, 2014...Read more

Joe Lamphier Receives Ted Williams Award for Philanthropic Work and Impact ..., October 21st

On Friday, October 17th, Joe Lamphier, Group Vice President Sales & Marketing for Crown Automotive Group, received the prestigious Ted Williams award, an honor created to recognize individuals whose love of the great outdoors is only surpassed by their ...Read more

Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame a must-see for baseball fans
Herald & Review, October 18th

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rays offer a bonus when you buy a ticket for an American. League baseball game at Tropicana Field, one of the last domed stadiums. Upstairs is the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame. Free admission...Read more

Ted Williams, World War II the subjects of new slugger museum exhibit
WDRB, October 11th

The home belonged to Kathy and Samantha Netherland. The money will be used to help settle the family's estate and anyone interested in buying it will get a chance to look inside it this weekend.More >>. The home belonged to Kathy and Samantha ...Read more

Once-Homeless 'Golden Voice' Ted Williams Is Broke
News 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

Ted Williams, the 'Golden Voice,' popular but broke
Columbus Dispatch, October 7th

On a recent visit to a Columbus soup kitchen, several people in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse shared their stories with Ted Williams. “The people just scream for him,” said Williams' longtime friend Kathy Craig, who witnessed his visit to...Read more

Ted Williams: 'Golden Voice' is clean and sober, but struggling to pay the bills
Columbus Dispatch, October 7th

For Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice, every outing turns into a public-relations event. On a recent visit to a soup kitchen, several people who are in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse shared their stories with Williams. “The...Read more

Baseball|In Derek Jeter's Big Hit, an Echo of Ted Williams's Final Swing
New York Times, September 26th

The clear parallel is to Ted Williams's final at-bat, on Sept. 28, 1960, at Fenway Park, in his final home plate appearance, wrapping up with a scintillating coda. Like Jeter, Williams knew he was retiring. A farewell ceremony preceded his final game...Read more