Showing posts with label Ted Williams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ted Williams. Show all posts

April 20, 2012

Cardboard Fenway: 1959 Fleer Ted Williams "1941 – All Star Hero"

Cardboard Fenway - #45. 1959 Fleer Ted Williams "1941 – All Star Hero"
Here's Ted crossing home after smacking a homer in 1941's All-Star Game. While not at Fenway, Williams wore his home whites, as the game was played in Detroit.

Cardboard Fenway: 1959 Fleer Ted Williams "1950 - Great Start"

Cardboard Fenway - #57. 1959 Fleer Ted Williams "1950 – Great Start"
No cardboard celebration of Fenway Park is complete without at least one card featuring the front office.

July 14, 2010

The Message

Dante Bichette, 1996 Topps

Buoyed by a 23-game hitting streak, Dante was named to his 2nd All-Star Game in 1995. After being selected in ’94, he received a congratulatory call from his idol, Ted Williams, but wasn’t at home.

Hi, you’ve reached the Bichettes. We’re not home right now, but feel free to leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.


Hello? Hello? Geez la freakin weez. Daniel? Listen, I don’t know if this confarnit machine is on or what. This is Ted Williams. Somebody told me to call you, because you uh, used to like me or something. Ya’ know, when I was playing ball – not in a homosexual kind of way, so just get that thought out of your head right now! Anyway David, I heard you made the All-Star team, and I wanted to say: Wow, what an honor. Can you sense the sarcasm there, Danny boy? What do they invite to that game now, 70 guys? If I had to call every guy they invited to the All-Star game my freakin finger would fall off! Mostly because I still use a rotary phone, and it takes me 12 minutes to dial locally. I time myself. Anyway, when I was playing ball, they invited two guys to the All-Star Game. Two! Me and DiMaggio. Not Dom – the good one. There was no one on the National League team, because they sucked, so me and DiMaggio would go out and there and hit until our hands were bleeding, and that was the game. In the ’41 game I hit 12 home runs and afterwards I caught a 54-lb marlin off the coast of the Pacific, so stick that in your ballot, Jimmy! And DiMaggio hit in 32 straight games that day, and it was only one game! You figure it out. But believe me – it happened. Hope you enjoyed your famous 23-hitting game hitting streak this year, Billy Bob. I once hit in 23 straight games myself, and by “hit in 23 straight games” I mean "shot down 23 enemy planes in the freakin’ war!" But really, hooray for you. By the way, it says here that you play for Colorado, so if somebody is pullin’ my chain and this is a prank call, my apologies. Baseball in Colorado…..pfft. Nothing but tree huggers over there, so good luck finding baseball bats! I met a Native American fellow in Colorado once. Cured my hangover with squirrel’s blood and two scoops of mulch. Nice fellow. Didn’t speak a lick of English though, and smelled like a sonofabitch. You’re not Native American, are ya’, Donald? Ehhh, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. These days. So…glad I caught you. Maybe the next time your childhood idol calls you’ll remember to be home, and not out dilly-dallying all over town with your long hair and what not. So I hoped you liked someone other than me growing up, cause I sure ain’t calling again. Maybe uh, Arthur Fonzarelli will call you up next week and you’ll be home, and the two of you nincompoops can talk about the good old days. I’ll be out on the lake trying to pretend this whole thing never happened. Anyway, congratulations.


February 13, 2010

Keeper trade with Cardboard Junkie

Thanks Dave! What can I send in return? Let me consult my Braves...

October 02, 2008

All-Time Red Sox 40-Man Roster

Lately I've been helping myself fall asleep by reciting my personal All-time Red Sox 40-man roster. Here's what I've come up with:

Carlton Fisk (1969-1980)
Jason Varitek (1997-2008)

First Base
Jimmie Foxx (1936-1942)
Mo Vaughn (1991-1998)

Second Base
Bobby Doerr (1937-1951)

Johnny Pesky (1942-1952)
Rico Petrocelli (1963-1976)
Nomar Garciaparra (1996-2004)
Joe Cronin (1936-1945)

Third Base
Wade Boggs (1982-1992)
Frank Malzone (1955-1965)

Ted Williams (1939-1960)
Carl Yastzremski (1961-1983)
Tris Speaker (1907-1915)
Harry Hooper (1909-1920)
Jim Rice (1974-1989)
Dwight Evans (1972-1990)
Manny Ramirez (2000-2008)

Designated Hitter
David Ortiz (2003-2008)

Starting Pitchers
Babe Ruth (1914-1919)
Roger Clemens (1984-1996)
Pedro Martinez (1998-2004)
Cy Young (1903-1908)
Lefty Grove (1934-1941)
Luis Tiant (1971-1978)
Mel Parnell (1947-1956)
Smoky Joe Wood (1908-1915)
Tim Wakefield (1995-2008)
Bill Lee (1969-1978)
Dutch Leonard (1913-1918)

Dick Radatz (1962-1966)
Bob Stanley (1977-1989)
Ellis Kinder (1946-1955)
Jonathan Papelbon (2005-2008)

Wild Card Choices
Trot Nixon (OF)
Jackie Jensen (OF)
Fred Lynn (OF)
Bruce Hurst (P)
Oil Can Boyd (P)
Joe Dobson (P)

Hard to Leave Off
Dustin Pedroia (maybe in a few years)
Reggie Smith
George Scott
Rooster Burleson
Wes Ferrell
Big Bill Dinneen
Ernie Shore
Jim Lonborg

August 18, 2008

1948 - 1979 Countdown:
#34. 1959 Fleer Ted WIlliams

Before Topps' institutionalized exaltation of players like Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, and Mickey Mantle, and Upper Deck's lavishly illustrated Baseball Heroes, hero worship was one of the many options in composing a baseball card set. Witness Fro Joy's 1928 Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig's face and facsimile signature on every card in the 1934 Goudey set. But most of all, feast your eyes on the big wet sloppy kiss on the lips that is Fleer's 80-card set from 1959: Baseball's Greatest, Ted Williams.

Six cards of a guy I can live with (that's about the length of a standard subset). And even 250 cards with Gehrig's little smirking face in the corner isn't bad (Gehrig is just part of the design, not the subject of each card). But 80 cards of the same player? You'd think that would be overkill. Of course, you'd be right. It turns out that you can form a pretty good picture of who Ted Williams was as a ballplayer with just five or six cards, not 80. And you really only need one card to form a solid image of who Ted Williams was as a human being: card #54, "Dec. 1954, Fisherman Ted Hooks a Big One."

From the back:
"Ted is an avid and expert fisherman. He devotes more time to fishing than anything else, except baseball. His status in the fishing world is as renowned as his status in the baseball world. Williams is particularly interested in game fish, such as marlin, tarpon or sailfish. On December 10, 1954 at Cabo Blanco in Peru, Ted caught the 8th largest black marlin ever landed with rod and reel. It weighed 1,235 lbs. Ted calls this 'my greatest fishing thrill.'

(The Best of the Set is Ted Signs for 1959 (card #68). It's by far and away the most valuable card in the set, and the most important for set collectors.)

Fleer made a big splash by signing Williams away from Topps in 1959, and they planned on getting their money's worth out of the deal. The set from 1959 was just the start of Teddy's cardboard coronation as he approached retirement. 1960 saw the first of two Baseball Greats sets of retired players, which lauded Williams as the brightest star among stars.

So then why, if 80 cards is overkill, does this set pull rank on a number of full-bodied sets made up of a season's worth of players? For a number of reasons, not the least being that it was the first post-war set of unabashed hero worship.

Fleer wasn't the first rival of Topps to sign away one of its major stars, but it was the first to do it after Topps swallowed Bowman in 1955. Also, it wasn't just a small-time regional star Fleer built around. It was Ted Williams, The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. I don't know if this is a fair assessment, but if Fleer doesn't land Williams in '59, does it release baseball cards in 1960, 1961, and the aborted series in 1963? I'm not sure those other sets happen without Williams on board. Heck, the whole reason the Baseball Greats sets exist at all was to include cards of Williams as part of his contract.

Also, if this set didn't exist, I'd argue that subsequent hero worship would've looked a lot different. Remember, Topps' Babe Ruth Story subset in the 1962 set came on the heels of Williams' defection to Fleer (and Maris' record-breaking 61 home runs in 1961). Before the BRS subset, Topps had limited experience in the way of hero worship: they gave Ted Williams card #1 three times (1954, 1957, 1958) and within the first five in 1955 and 1956. The only other instance I can think of is Roy Campanella's post-accident 'Symbol of Courage' card (#550) in the 1959 set.

Following the BRS, hero worship was part of the Topps repertoire, to be used in 1974 with Hank Aaron, 1985 and 1986 with Pete Rose, 1990 with Nolan Ryan, and in the recent abyss composed of every Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds insert set the company has felt compelled to produce. All of these go back to the Babe Ruth Story subset in 1962 Topps, which in turns goes back to Fleer's 1959 set, Baseball's Greatest, Ted Williams.

September 16, 2007

Goudey Trade-away #17: Honus for Ichiro

This trade comes in from Tony in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Giving: Ichiro, #104
Getting: Honus Wagner, 1994 Ted Williams Card Company

I know I'm the one who decided to trade away all his Goudey cards, and so far I don't regret that decision, but tonight I'm a little jealous. Tony's getting a great card of one of my favorite players: Ichiro Suzuki.

Don't get me wrong, I'll take a Wagner in trade any day of the week. It's just that this Ichiro is one heck of a beautiful card. Give 'im a good home, Tony.

January 01, 2007

Countdown #46. 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats

If you're not familiar with this set, Fleer put out a flurry of small competitor sets to Topps in the late 1950s and early 1960s in baseball, football and basketball (actually, basketball is a special case, as sets from this time period are few and far between: Bowman put out a set in 1948, Topps put out a set for the 1957-58 season, and then Fleer came out with a set for 1961-62. So to call them competitors in this particular sport is not exactly accurate. But Topps and Fleer were competitors in baseball, so let's not discuss basketball, if that's okay).

Anyway, as mentioned in a previous post, Fleer put out a mega-hero-worship set in tribute to Ted Williams' retirement in 1959. Then, to capitalize on the idea of hero worship, they put out two sets of 'baseball greats' (including the newly retired Williams in both years) in 1960 and 1961. You might think that because the players depicted were not active when the sets were made, these two sets should be grouped under one ranking. I beg to differ. The two series differ greatly, and yes, the difference is enough that would warrant one set finding itself at the bottom of this countdown (1960) and the other somewhere in the middle (1961). There's just that much of a difference.

First, the 1960 design is lacking a, well, a design. If you examine it against the 1961 set, and even its contemporaries (most of which are no prize pigs themselves), it sucks. Four small colored triangles pushed to the edges like sticky photo album corners, framing mostly colorized black and white photos of players posed as if they were wax figures in a poorly lit tableau at a roadside attraction. The back is rather plain, but it does feature a nice clean typeface and a good amount of copy about each player.

Second, when you examine the checklist, it’s really not bad. I mean, as far as a set of old timers goes. It’s got Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, Mathewson, Speaker, Hubbell, the freshly minted old timer Ted Williams and the ridiculous but seemingly mandatory inclusion of league presidents Frick and Giles (it’s like they were included to remind everyone that old spooks never die). There’s also Jimmie Foxx (spelled ‘Jimmy’), Bob Feller, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Hal Newhouser. But no Monte Irvin. And no Jackie Robinson. You’d of thought that armed with just an 80 card checklist and going against a powerhouse competitor in Topps, Fleer would’ve made more splashes than just the Williams signing in 1959.

The question of Robinson aside, when you think about it today it seems so innocent, if not uncanny: it was Fleer’s second stab at a real, honest-to-goodness baseball card set, coming on the heels of the ‘Williams in ‘59’ campaign (a relatively clean, sharp and to the point set (if over the top in its hero worship)). Flash ahead twenty years to 1982 and you’ve got the same deal playing out (if different circumstances): the company celebrates a court victory and a return to cards with a clean and simple inaugural set in 1981, then gets completely wasted over winter break and hits the sophomore slump with a crappy set in 1982. So, stepping back to 1960, should history be a little kinder to this set?

I don’t think so. It was a major coup to get Williams away from Topps. But after the hoopla died down from his own set, why did Fleer bury him at card #72? Everybody knew how good he was. Shouldn’t the set have confirmed it and placed him in the pantheon of greats in the first ten cards? Or put him as a tacky #1?

In today’s mindset, the idea of doing an old timers’ set isn’t that big of a deal. TCMA made their money doing them in the Seventies, there were plenty of one-offs in the 1990s (The Conlon Collection and The Ted Williams Card Company come to mind) and Topps has done plenty of them since launching the Archives brand in 1991. But it seems like Fleer was really going out on a limb to do this in 1960, and even though the set was kind of lousy, it set the table for a much better set in 1961.

Card scans from Dan Austin's Virtual Card Collection.