Settling in on a Sunday afternoon getting ready to watch Game 5 of the World Series. Boston Red Sox lead the Los Angeles Dodgers 3 games to 1 and more than likely will go on to win their 9th World Series Championship. So it got me to thinking about Boston legends like: Jimmy Collins, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr and Carl Yastrzemski. More modern-day legends like Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, and Pedro Martinez. But of the 11 Boston Red Sox Hall of Famers none is more intriguing to me than Teddy Ballgame.
To understand the legend of Ted’s career one must start with the man. He was a bit rough around the edges, brash and bold. He was strong, opinionated, and told it like he saw it. He was a man’s man and was also known as the The Kid, The Splendid Splinter, and my favorite the John Wayne of Baseball.
In 1939, his rookie season he hit 31 home runs with 145 RBI, the city of Boston fell in love with him. If a Rookie of the Year Award existed at that time hands down he would’ve won it. But Ted was cocky and he knew he was good. Under the microscope of the sports writers things were written that offended Ted, it affected his play and his batting average started to drop. It got to the point home crowds were booing him and being the young, cocky Ted Williams – he retaliated. He took on an “I’ll show you attitude” and was fueled by anger.
Ted shunned the writers and fans and let his bat do the talking. He continued his onslaught of power and batting average. By the end of the 1941 season he hit for an outstanding .406 batting average. Amazingly, he came in second for MVP honors in 1941 due to the beloved sports writers favorite Joe DiMaggio, who had a 48 game hit streak.
Ted came back in 1942 and won a Triple Crown, leading all of baseball in: runs, home runs, RBI’s, walks, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage but still was voted second in MVP voting by the sports writers. Proving once again the alienation between him and the writers and the writers against him. The MVP was given to another Yankee, Joe Gordon.
Between 1943-45 Ted Williams served in the military during World War II and was a successful pilot. Ted later describes the military as good for him. It gave him structure and discipline. When he came back in 1946 he picked up right where he left off and had another amazing season and this time earned an over due MVP Award. Ted followed that up by winning a second Triple Crown in 1947!
Career Stats: 19x All-Star | 2x MVP | 2x Triple Crown | 6x Batting Title Champion | All-Time Career Record .482 On Base Percentage
ROOKIE CARD OF HALL OF FAMER TED WILLIAMS
1939 Play Ball, Card No. 92 (shop ebay)
These are a tad smaller than the average modern card measuring 2-1/2″ x 3-1/8″ and were produced by Gum, Inc. These were the first bubble gum cards manufactured since 1936 due to the Depression Era.
The design of the card reminds me of Teddy Baseball. It has a “take it or leave it” attitude to it with a plain black and white photo sitting on white borders, nothing else is printed on the card front. But I really do like the full action pose of Ted – great photo!
The card back gives us: name, player bio, and commentary. Towards the bottom we get copy rights and below that a notation, “This is one of a series of 250 pictures of leading baseball players. Save to get them all.” Truth is the numbers are a little skewed. Cards 1-162 are known to exist and card 126 was never printed. It’s assumed that Play Ball didn’t purposely set out to mislead anyone but shortages of paper and gum base were the reasons to cut production short.
I don’t recommend purchasing raw copies from unreliable sources, you would be taking a big risk due to forfeited copies. As of the date of this post low-end graded copies (1-3’s) sell for $860.00-$1,784.00; mid-grade copies (4-6’s) sell between $2,080.00-$5,315.00; higher-end copies (7-8’s) sell in the $6,647.00-$18,100.00 range. And on November 19, 2016 a PSA 9 sold for $239,000.00!
AS I FINISH THIS POST IT SEEMS LIKE CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER TO THE 2018 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS BOSTON RED SOX!!!!
Ted Williams Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/willite01.shtml (accessed October 28, 2018).
Ted Williams. Digital Image. New Haven Register. https://www.nhregister.com/mlb/article/Ted-Williams-biography-leaves-no-stone-unturned-11377443.php (accessed October 27, 2018).
Owens, Tom. Ellingboe, Steven. Taylor, Ted. Lemke, Robert. Great Book of Baseball Cards. Lincolnwood, IL. Publications International, Ltd. 1989.