Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#5 Ted Williams - Boston Red Sox

Theodore Samuel Williams
Boston Red Sox

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'3"  Weight:  205
Born:  August 30, 1918, San Diego, CA
Signed:  Signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1936
Major League Teams:  Boston Red Sox 1939-1942, 1946-1960
As a Manager:  Washington Senators 1969-1971; Texas Rangers 1972
Died:  July 5, 2002, Inverness, FL (age 83)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1966

Known affectionately throughout his career as The Kid, Teddy Ballgame and the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams is one of the greatest hitters of all-time.  Other than his rookie campaign of 1939, his years serving in World War II (1943-1945) and his first year in Korea (1952), Williams was named to the A.L. All-Star team every year he was active, making the club 17 times.  The A.L. MVP in 1946 and 1949, Williams is the last player to hit over .400 in a single season when he hit .406 in 1941.  His Hall of Fame plaque notes he was named Player of the Decade for the 1950s.

Williams is one of four players to appear in the 1956 Topps set and be elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in the 1960s, along with Jackie Robinson (#30) and Bob Feller (#200, both 1962) and Roy Campanella (#101, 1969).

Building the Set
Mom & Me - Christmas 1993

December 25, 1993 from San Diego, CA - Card #122
This card is behind only the Hank Aaron (#31) and Mickey Mantle (#135) cards in terms of the most money spent on any single card for our set.  Dad (Santa) left this Williams card under the Christmas tree for me on Christmas morning, 1993.  He purchased the card from Kit Young Cards in San Diego and to hear him tell the tale, he fiercely negotiated the price down to $135.  Dad loved bragging that he "Talked to Kit himself" when purchasing this card since it was such a major purchase.  "Talked right to Kit about the price.  Told him we were building the set and I talked right to him."

I don't have a picture of my Dad and me together from this Christmas, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out from time to time that my Mom also played a large role in us collating this set.  My Dad would have been the one hesitant to spend $135 on a piece of cardboard, even if it had Ted Williams on it.  My Mom would have been the one telling him to go for it.

Our card has a minor ding on the top left corner, but otherwise it's in fantastic shape.  I also received the Jim Konstanty card (#321) on this Christmas morning, and I'm not ashamed to admit I have no memory of adding the Konstanty card to our set.  The Williams card far overshadowed it.

This was the 122nd card we added to the set and in terms of Big, big-ticket cards remaining, this left us with only the Aaron and Sandy Koufax (#79) cards to track down.

The Card
Williams had an exclusive contract with Bowman up until 1954, and he was omitted from the first three years' of Topps sets.  Making his first Topps appearance in their 1954 set (twice), Topps recycled the same portrait photo used on his second 1954 Topps card for the 1955 and 1956 Williams cards.  I always found it a little odd that Topps chose to use an action photo of Williams showing him appearing to be watching a pop-up. And I'll check for this on future cards, but I don't recall Topps spotlighting any other player autographs like they did for Williams with the white cloudy background making his signature easier to see.

The cartoon on the back in the first panel actually resembles Williams and states simply (and accurately), "Ted is one of baseball's all-time greats."

1956 Season
Williams was 37 entering the 1956 season and he showed no signs of slowing down.  In 136 games for the Red Sox, he hit .345 and led the majors with a .479 OBP, drawing 102 walks.  He hit 24 home runs with 82 RBIs.  At season's end, he was still the active career home run leader with 418, trailed by Stan Musial who had 352.

1939 Play Ball #92
1954 Topps #1
1958 Topps #1
1972 Topps #510
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1939 Play Ball #92
First Topps Card:  1954 Topps #1
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1958 Topps #1
First Topps Card (as a manager):  1969 Topps #650
Last Topps Card (as a manager):  1972 Topps #510
Most Recent Topps Card (post-career):  1976 Topps #347 ATG
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2015 Topps Tape Measure Blasts #TMB-14

Apparently Williams was a big fan of signing exclusive contracts with a single baseball card manufacturer.  He doesn't appear in the 1959, 1960 or 1961 Topps sets as he had signed a deal with Fleer.  He returned to Topps with four manager cards with the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers and he made an appearance in the 1976 Topps subset celebrating the all-time greats.

2,129 - Williams non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/2/15

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.


  1. This card is very high on my want list. Great story. Beautiful card.

  2. This is just a fantastic card! Best one yet. I love the fact that you wrote down where all these cards came from, and how you got them. Good legwork for a future blog!

  3. Nice Christmas gift. Sharp card.