i had a different card lined up for today's hall of famer collection entry, but decided to go with a big gun since i know i can use a bit of a pick-me-up in the midst of the pandemic. ted williams is in my hall of famer collection with this card as his entry:
note the tell-tale diamond hologram that certifies the autographed version of the card.
so, yeah. i have a card autographed by teddy ballgame. this card is instantly one of the stars of my entire collection - not just that of hall of famers.
my earliest recollection of ted williams comes from the 1979 season. the all-time record holder cards included in the topps set that year made me aware of his status of being the player to have most recently hit over .400, as well as being one of the top all-time home run hitters and rbi producers. in addition, one of my neighbors had his 1971 topps card and i was smitten.later that same year, i received the image of their greatness by lawrence ritter and donald honig, and i was able to read about williams in a little more detail. that book had a profound effect on my opinion of williams, as this is what i read:
"no hitter ever had more confidence at the plate than ted williams, every bit of it fully justified. no player ever had better eyesight, better judgment of a pitched ball, a purer swing, more power, more intense concentration."
that is heavy and high praise, and it made quite an impression on me as a 9-year old. later on in the book, i learned more about williams' .400 season in that he refused to sit out the last day of the 1941 season with a batting average that rounded up to .400 and instead played both games of a double header, going 6 for 8 to finish at the historic .406.
over the next few years, i continued to learn about williams, and even added a couple of his cards to my collection - that aforementioned 1971 card and his 1976 topps sporting news subset card. while i was in high school, his sports illustrated interview with wade boggs and don mattingly was deemed mandatory reading by our baseball coach. as a result, i've spent the last 30+ years nodding my head in understanding when i see a player on tv smell his bat after fouling off a pitch straight back.
in 1999, i happened to be in boston the weekend leading up to the all-star game. i was unfortunately unable to attend the fanfest activities (and missed out on a steve garvey appearance), but i did walk past fenway and thought of williams and babe ruth and other legends of the game who had played there. it turned out that many of baseball's greatest living players were in town as the nominees for the all-century team were being introduced at the all-star game, including williams. i recall watching the all-star game a few days later from somewhere in new hampshire and thoroughly enjoying the respect paid to williams during the pregame ceremonies. he revisited the discussion he had with boggs and mattingly regarding the smell of burning wood with mark mcgwire, and i would have enjoyed watching williams interact with the players for the next three hours more than the game itself.
had williams not lost essentially five seasons while he served two stints in the military during world war ii and the korean conflict, his career baseball numbers would have been greater, but they are still among the best ever. his .344 career batting average is tied for 7th all-time, and is the highest of any modern era player. the number that really impresses me, however, is his lifetime on-base percentage of .482. that is the greatest obp of all-time.
over the years, my respect and admiration for the splendid splinter has grown, and if you were to ask me who has lived the greatest american life, i would likely answer with ted williams. he was a top tier hall of fame baseball player, a decorated naval aviator and marine fighter pilot, and a hall of fame fisherman, to boot. that is not a bad life to have lived.
here's my hall of famer collection as its been documented so far:
babe ruth - 2003 topps tribute world series edition world series tribute relic 351/425
honus wagner - 2001 topps tribute relic
tris speaker - 2011 topps tribute dual relic green parallel 53/75
george sisler - 2004 topps tribute hall of fame tribute relic
dizzy dean - 2001 topps tribute relic
bob feller - 2001 topps archives certified autograph
jackie robinson - 2004 topps clubhouse collection clubhouse relic
ted williams - 1992 upper deck baseball heroes autograph 1067/2000
yogi berra - 1998 donruss signatures significant signatures 1640/2000
roberto clemente - 2005 donruss greats hall of fame souvenirs relic
willie mays - 1997 topps willie mays reprints certified autograph
hank aaron - 2004 topps originals 1979 topps all-time record holders rbi 03/32
frank robinson - 1995 upper deck autograph
harmon killebrew - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures
pee wee reese - 2001 topps tribute relic
jim hunter - 1998 donruss signature series significant signatures 0736/2000
willie stargell - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures
gaylord perry - 2003 topps finest finest moments autograph
rollie fingers - 2018 topps archives signature series 1978 topps buyback 1/3
reggie jackson - 2018 topps tier one tier one talent autograph 19/60
steve carlton - 2018 topps five star career year autograph 43/45
mike schmidt - 2002 topps archives autoproof 1980 topps buyback 048/147
don sutton - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph
tony perez - 2004 fleer national pastime 2002 fleer greats authentic autograph buyback 30/59
dave winfield - 2003 upper deck sp authentic chirography hall of famers 121/350
ozzie smith - 2019 topps finest finest origins autograph
gary carter - 1999 fleer sports illustrated greats of the game autograph collection
dennis eckersley - 2017 topps archives signature series 1984 topps buyback 47/99
paul molitor - 2016 topps museum collection archival autographs 021/125
bruce sutter - 2003 topps all-time fan favorites certified autograph
jim rice - 2005 upper deck past time pennants past time signatures
alan trammell - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph
roy halladay - 2017 topps archives signature series 2004 topps buyback 15/23
you can find the full list of hall of famers (and some not - yet) that i aim to include in this collection at my want list site.
*not currently a member of the hall of fame