05-13 Card of the Day: Ted Williams

The 1955 Topps issue of 'Splendid Splinter' is a thing of beauty

Mike Schopp
May 13, 2020 - 10:25 am
Ted Williams

Photo: Mike Schopp (@Schopptalk)




Not much needs to be said about Ted Williams, the baseball player -- or, for that matter, Ted Williams, the man. Numerous books have been written about him detailing his life as a player, a fighter pilot, a world-class fisherman, and so on. Williams is, perhaps, baseball's all-time greatest hitter, and his complicated relationship with his Boston Red Sox team and its fans over his stellar 19-year career is endlessly fascinating. 

From a card standpoint, Williams is fairly interesting too. For the first few years of his career, card collecting was scattershot. A company named Play Ball issued what's considered Williams' rookie card, in 1939. Play Ball runs through 1941, the season in which Williams hit his legendary .406. In 1948, Leaf produced a set that offers some of collectors' favorite cards to this day, including a Williams offering. Past that, Williams was Bowman's property. But beginning with its debut in 1952, Topps began its path to card-collecting power. Topps acquired the rights to Williams in 1954, a set in which Williams appears twice (including, not coincidentally, card No. 1). Topps soon would buy out Bowman, and for almost 80 years has been the most famous name in cards.

The 1955 issue is set horizontally, and this Williams card is simply gorgeous. The face, the swing, the autograph... in classic Williams fashion, all of it is perfection. If wacky cartoons are more your style, you may like the back of this card, which features a grapefruit slice making a lunging catch.

Williams retired after the 1960 season, but his business with Topps would end before that. Williams appears in 1958, but then signed an exclusive arrangement with Fleer, who made a set the next year entirely of Williams cards. So, in the end, for as long as his career was, Williams during his playing days appears in only five Topps sets -- 1954-58.

This particular 1955 copy is pretty nice. Grade-wise it comes in at a 6, putting it in the $350 range.

1955 Topps Baseball No. 2 Ted Williams card
Mike Schopp
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