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 Ted Williams Rookie Rc #92 Psa 2 Gd (pwcc)1941 Play Ball Ted Williams #14 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)Ted Williams + 9 500 Home Run Club Signed Autograph Baseball Psa/dna Guarantee "real" Joe Dimaggio & Ted Williams Signed Baseball MlbOriginal 1958-1963 Ted Williams Red Sox Hartland Baseball Statue High Grade Nice1954 Wilson Franks Ted Williams Psa 5.5 Ex+ (pwcc)Ted Williams Red Sox Signed Autograph A.l. Baseball Loa Psa/dna U14826Ted Williams Single Signed Baseball Auto Jsa Loa Red Sox Hof Deceased 2002Ted Williams 1992 Upper Deck Heroes Auto #/2500 Autograph Boston Red Sox Hof1940 Play Ball Ted Williams #27 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1950 Bowman #98 Ted Williams Hof Red Sox Great Psa Graded Good Much Nicer!!Cronin/foxx/ted Williams/dom Dimaggio 2014 Classics Quads 3 X Bat/jersey 24/251981 Perez-steele Ted Williams Signed Card #104 Hof Psa/dna Auto SlabbedTed Williams Signed Baseball Auto + Uda Hologram Red Sox Hof Deceased 20021948 Leaf Ted Williams #76 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)Ted Williams Signed Ltd Ed "last 400 Hitter" Personal W215 H&b Bat Jsa #192/4061951 Bowman Ted Williams #165 Psa 4.5 Vgex+ (pwcc)1950s Ted Williams 125 Louisville Slugger Hillerich & Bradsby Baseball Bat 33"1956 Topps #5 Ted Williams White Back Psa 7 NmVintage 7" Round B/w Photograph Of Ted Williams W/autograph ~ Coa Jsa Y260601954 Topps Ted Williams #250 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)1958 Topps #1 Ted Williams - Psa 5 - Boston Red Sox2006 Topps Sterling Ted Williams Six Relics Game Used Jerseys And Bats4/10 MintRare Early 1950's Ted Williams Boston Red Sox Baseball Advertising Postcard Nice1959 Fleer Ted Williams Red Sox Baseball Card Near Complete Set 79/80 Nice!Ted Williams Autographed Baseball Psa/dna 8 Nm/mt Not Sealed1956 Topps #5 Ted Williams Psa 1.5 White Back Hof Old Graded Baseball Card1950 Bowman Low-mid Grde Complete Set Jackie Robinson Ted Williams Snider (pwcc)Perez Steele Hof, Ted Williams Autographed, Psa/dna Mint 9Lot(10) 1940-78 Bowman Stars W/ Ted Williams Spahn Ashburn, Pr To Vg (pwcc)2013 Topps Triple Threads Ted Williams Legend Relics Gold Gu 13x Bat #/91951 Bowman Low-grde Partial Set (98) Ted Williams Rizzuto Whitey Ford Rc (pwcc)Mickey Mantle And Ted Williams 11 X 14 Autographed Framed Showcase With Coa1950's Boston Red Sox Baseball Souvenir Plastic Bank - Ted Williams Etc. Nice!Ted Williams 2014 Panini Classics Membership Red Sox Triple Bat Jersey 16/25 Sp1954 Bowman Ted Williams #66 Red Sox Psa 1 Ad0027991958 Topps Ted Williams Baseball Card #1 ******stunning Card****** Wow1956 Topps Ted Williams White Back Psa 5 ExRoger Staubach 1994 Ted Williams Company Auto #/200 Autograph Card Cowboys RareMickey Mantle Autographed Cut/ Ted Williams Autographed Photo / Very Nice !! 1957 Topps Ted Williams Baseball Card #1 ******stunning Card****** WowTed Williams Psa/dna Signed Handwritten Personal Check, Certified Authentic Rare1954 Topps Ted Williams #1 * Baseball Card Boston Red Sox VgWalter Payton Lot(6) 1978-83 Topps + 1994 Ted Williams Auckland Collection #ac31955 Topps Ted Williams #2 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)Ted Williams (red Sox) Signed Autographed Official American League Baseball CoaTed Williams 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Framed Silk Patch Sp #07/10 $2501954 Bowman #66 Ted Williams " The Rarity " Red Sox Hof Psa 6 Ex-mt (mc)Mickey Mantle/ted Williams Autographed 8x10 Photo....certified1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1959 Fleer Ted Williams Set Lot X 16 Cards Nice!!!1956 Topps Ted Williams #5 Psa 4 Vg-ex - Nice Vintage Card 73692013 Topps Triple Threads Baseball Proof Card. Ted Williams Red SoxTed Williams Jersey 63/99 2014 Panini Classics Baseball1956 Topps Ted Williams #5 Gray Back Sgc A (authentic) Hof Red Sox (w&w) Auth$400 Old Vintage Player Ted Williams Graded 10 Lincoln Wheat Cent Coin Card 1960 Topps Ted Williams Card Never Made MtTed Williams Signed Baseball - Home Shopping Network1957 Topps Ted Williams #1 Psa 8(oc) Nm-mt (pwcc)1956 Topps #5 Ted Williams Psa 4

Recent News: Ted Williams Memorabilia

Source: Google News

In Arizona Fall League, baseball is put on the clock
Boston Globe, November 27th

Ted Williams had to be rolling over in his freezer 6 miles down the road. Pitchers were particularly peeved. Zack Jones, a Rafters righthander in the Twins organization, liked the clock as much as the crocodile did in “Peter Pan.” “I think there's no...Read more

'Golden Voice' Ted Williams Visits The QCA
KWQC 6, November 20th

Walmart has released its Black Friday deals. The sales event starts at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.More >>. Walmart has released its Black Friday deals. The sales event starts at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.More >> ...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
Waterbury Observer, November 15th

The Waterbury Hall of Fame inducted four new members at a ceremony inside the Mattatuck Museum this afternoon; Daniel Buck the co-founder of The Waterbury Clock Company, Gerald Lamb, the first African-American elected to state office in American ...Read more

11 Athletes Who Became Real American Heroes For Their Military Service
Huffington Post, November 12th

From Hall of Fame baseball legends like Ted Williams and Bob Feller to former NFL player Pat Tillman, there have been dozens of standout American athletes who left behind adoring crowds and traded in uniforms meant for games for ones that meant ...Read more

Ted Williams' 39-0 Still Greatest Record in Boston Sports History
Boston.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

Non Sequitur: Unearthed Conversation Between Ted Williams' Head and ...
Huffington Post (satire), November 4th

In a long-lost 2005 phone conversation transcript recently recovered somewhere deep in the Sudan, Montecore, the infamous Bengal tiger who attacked illusionist/owner Roy Horn in 2003, chats with Red Sox icon Ted Williams, well, his severed head that is...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