Ted Williams Baseball Cards

Ted Williams (1918-2002) played for 19 years in MLB for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 to 1960. He is best remembered as one of the greatest hitters with a .344 batting average, 2,654 hits, 521 home runs, 1,839 runs batted in, and OBP of .482. He is the most recent player to have hit .400 (he hit .406 in 1941).

He was a 19 time All Star, two time AL MVP, two time Triple Crown, and six time AL batting champion. A first ballot Hall of Famer, Williams is generally considered one of the best players of all time.

Leading his high school team to state championships, Williams made a name for himself young. He was a highly touted minor league player, and he was brought up to the Red Sox in 1939. Williams had a solid rookie season with a batting average of .327.

However, he hit a slump early in his sophomore season. Newspapers lambasted him, fans heckled him, and criticism rose from all around. For the rest of his life, Williams had a tumultuous relationship with the media and fans. Williams never tipped his cap to the crowd for the rest of his career.

As the sole support for his mother, Williams requested draft deferment in 1942 with the beginning of America’s involvement in World War 2. He was heavily criticized by the press and public, so Williams enlisted in the Navy in November of 1942.

Considering his .406 batting average in 1941 and his Triple Crown in 1942, Williams missing out on the 1943-1945 seasons is a “What If” of MLB history. Williams is one of the greatest hitters of all time even though he missed out on three peak seasons. How many times could Williams have won the Triple Crown? How high could his batting average have been? Though fighting in WWII is a noble reason for forgoing baseball, fans will never know just how legendary Williams’ career could have been.

After returning for a few more exceptional seasons, Williams returned to military service in 1952. Again with the “What If”, Williams hit .400 in 1952 and .407 in 1953, but both seasons are discounted since he only played 43 games.

Williams retired in 1960, where he refused to acknowledge the fans in his final home game. John Updike famously remarked, “gods do not answer letters.” He would go on to manage a few teams, winning American League Manager of the Year and retiring from baseball managing in 1972. He reportedly focused on his love of fishing for many years.

Well aware of his hitting abilities, Williams strove to improve throughout his life. He once said, “A man has to have goals— for a day, for a lifetime— and that was mine, to have people say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.’” It was an ambitious goal, and to many, Williams succeeded. This article will take you through a few cards that hope to represent his career.

As a final note, in 1991 the Boston Red Sox had a Ted Williams Day. The 73 year old Williams gave a short speech, and then he tipped his cap to the Red Sox fans.

1939 Play Ball Ted Williams Rookie Card

This set had 161 cards which measured 2 ½” x 3 ⅛”. It is an important set that was distributed by Gum, Incorporated. The size helps to mark the beginning of the era of transitioning away from the smaller tobacco cards. There are a number of Hall of Famers such as Joe DiMaggio, Earl Averill, and Bill Dickey, but the prize rookie card is for Ted Williams.

Williams is at #92 for this set, and this may be the iconic Williams card. There are a decent number of cards available, though higher grades are tough to find for this set. There are almost 1000 cards registered by PSA, and there are a few Mint condition cards.

While Mint condition cards have gone for anywhere between $132,000 to $239,000, the last sale was in December of 2019. Prices could easily be higher for PSA 9’s, given the boost in prices in 2020 and beyond. If you look across grades, prices have been somewhat erratic recently. Since this is such a popular rookie card, you would have to go to a PSA Poor 1 to find a card around $1,000.

1940 Play Ball Ted Williams

The Play Ball sets are major sets for their time, as they cap off the pre WWII era. The United States is coming off of difficulties due to the Great Depression, and then there is a gap in baseball card production due to WWII.

The 1940 set has 240 cards which measure at 2 ½” x 3 ⅛”. The design is similar to the 1939. There are several stars on this set such as Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, but there are also past legends like Honus Wagner and Nap Lajoie. Williams is at card #27.

The population of Ted William cards is similar to the 1939 set. There are over 550 cards registered by PSA, but only a few of them are in top grade.

Given the sophomore status of the card, prices fall substantially from the rookie edition. While Mint condition cards sell for over $10,000, a collector would only have to stoop to a PSA 5 to find a card for around $1,000. This is a great option for a higher graded card that is similar to the rookie card.

1941 Play Ball Ted Williams

The 1941 Play Ball set added color to their cards, which bolsters its prestige. There were 72 cards in the set which measured at 2 ½” x 3 ⅛”. There are over 900 cards of Ted Williams registered by PSA, so it is not rare, but it fetches a high price. A Mint condition card went for $120,000 in 2020. A collector would have to drop to a PSA 3 to get below $1,000.

1948 Leaf Ted Williams

The 1948 Leaf is a major return of baseball cards. There are 168 cards which use skip numbering through 98. They measure at 2 ⅜” x 2 ⅞”. There are some great players in this set in addition to Ted Williams, such as Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, George Kell, Bob Feller, and Satchel Paige.

This is a solid option for Williams for his post WWII career. There are about 1000 registered cards of Williams. While Mint condition cards have sold for around $35,000 to $40,000 the last few years, a PSA 5 has been selling for around $1,500.

1954 Bowman Ted William

Given Williams’ service in 1952 and 1953 in the Korean War, collectors today miss out on Williams’ presence on some great sets for Bowman. However, Williams was on the 1950 and 1951 Bowman.

There are 224 cards in this set which measures 2 ½” x 3 ¾”. Bowman had a few exclusive contracts for players like Bob Feller, Mickey Mantle, and Pee Wee Reese.

There are over 1000 cards of Williams registered by PSA, and though it is not a rare card, a high grade card may be hard to track down. A PSA 8 has been selling for about $10,000 in 2020. To get below $1,000, you would have to drop to a PSA 4.

1954 Topps Ted William

There are 250 cards in this set which measure at 2 ⅝” x 3 ¾”. The set helped set the design for Topps. The 1954 Topps marks the debut of Williams on Topps. Notably, Williams is at the #1 spot for the set.

The card has been well preserved with over 3,000 registered by PSA. Like the 1954 Bowman, the 1954 Topps Ted Williams is a decently affordable later career option. A PSA 8 sells for close to $10,000, and a $1,000 should easily get you a PSA 6.


Luckily for collectors, there are a number of options for Ted Williams cards. This article went over the biggest cards, but there are a few more options out there. Many of them do justice to, perhaps, the greatest hitter of all time.