Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ted Williams in My Collection

I don't have any great cards of Ted Williams, but I thought I would show today what I do have.  Growing up in the 80s, Williams, who last played in 1960, was a not-too-distant memory for the generation before me.  People talked about him as the last player to hit .400, especially when people talked about George Brett, who came close with his .390 in 1980.  When I was in college, it looks like the player strike stopped Tony Gwynn's attempt, as he finished the short season batting .394.
1970 Topps Ted Williams.
1971 Topps Ted Williams.
These two Topps Ted Williams manager cards were my only opportunity to get regular cards of him in the 80s.  With his career starting in 1939, he of course is from before the time of either Bowman or Topps cards, but his later career did overlap with them, since he played until 1960.  Still, none of those 1950s cards were remotely affordable to me as a kid; I am sure I never even saw one.

So I leapt at the chance to get these manager cards.  You might be able to tell that the 1970 card is badly off center from top to bottom.  I feel like I got the 1971 card first, probably pretty early on in my collecting days, since I think I got it at Stale Gum in Newark, DE, and Stale Gum closed not too long after I started collecting.  The 1970 could have been added to my collection anytime, either from visiting other shops or shows.  The 1971 Williams was not only my first relatively good card of Ted Williams, but also my first card of the Washington Senators.  You heard stories that there used to be a team in Washington, but here was something tangible.
Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Willie Mays: Superstars.
Ted Williams, Superstar.
In addition to never seeing or being able to afford any of his Topps or Bowman cards, or earlier, from his playing days, I also never saw any of the 1959 Fleer set which extensively chronicled his life.  Something I did buy in the 80s, though, were these two Superstar sets.  The Trading Card Database tells me these are the Seckeli Superstar set, with the yellow ones from 1980 and the red from 1982.  I remember clearly that I bought them at a local department store called Mitchell's, which we went to for scouting stuff, and also had a baseball card section.  The sets were quite repetitive with respect to the players featured -- several cards each of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, and a couple of others.  I'm not showing all of these Superstar cards that are of Williams; there are quite a few, and showing a couple seems enough.
Ted Williams, Superstar.
Baseball Immortals Ted Williams.
The second series, the red cards from 1982, branched out a bit, and included not only additional major league players, but also Sadaharu Oh, and players from other sports.  Overall, the quality of the Superstar sets is low, but these were interesting to me as a kid, back in the day when information was harder to come by, and when the distance to the playing days of Williams and the others wasn't so long.  I bought the Baseball Immortals set at the same time as the two Superstar sets, at Mitchell's.  They kept adding to the set, but at the time I bought it, it included all the Hall-of-Famers inducted through 1980, so including Duke Snider, Al Kaline, and Chuck Klein.
Pacific Legends Ted Williams.
Leaf Candy City Team Ted Williams.
Then I have a Pacific Legends card of Ted Williams.  I have a number of Pacific Legends cards that I opened from wax packs; I never pursued a complete set, but I like all of the ones that I have.  Trading Card Database tells me that the Leaf Candy City Team cards are a set affiliated with Special Olympics, and in addition to the baseball players, there are cards of some Special Olympics events.  I have all of the baseball ones and none of the Special Olympics events; I really don't know where I ever got the baseball ones.


  1. You may not consider them as such, but I think the 1970 and 1971 Williams' are both really great cards.

    1. I like them, especially the 1971, but it would be nice to have one from his playing days!

  2. Any Teddy card is a good card. I’m a Williams collector myself. He has some iconic cards. The 59 Fleer set cards can be found at reasonable prices

    1. Thanks, I may look into getting a few from the 1959 Fleer set.

  3. You can pick up the '58 Topps multi-player card of him and Ted Kluszewski for under $20 in f/g condition. There are a couple of his '58 All Star cards on eBay for about $25. That's a great subset.

    I really like that '71Topps.