Ted Williams 1954 #001
by William Szczepanek
The 1954 Ted Williams #001 is second in the Hall of Fame voting. In 1954 Sy Berger signed Ted Williams to a five-year contract with Topps and in this year Ted graced the front and back ends of this issue with card #001 and card #250. This was the only time this honor has been afforded to any player.
Williams broke his collarbone in spring training of 1954 and didn't get into his first game until May 7th. In a doubleheader, he started his season with eight hits - five singles, a double, and two home runs ending the day with 7 RBIs.
Williams had not played a full season since 1951 due to his participation in the Korean War. Topps now had him under contract, but Ted continued to speak about retirement. He finished the 1954 season with a .345 batting average, very close to his lifetime average of .344. Playing in only 117 games he finished the season second in home runs with 29, and led the league with an on base percentage of .479 and a slugging average of .608. He did not have enough at bats to qualify for the batting title.
At this point in time Mickey Mantle was still a highly touted prospect who hadn't yet arrived. Ted Williams had been a star since the 1930s. Williams was the one everyone watched and his cards were the most coveted at the time. His greatness was honored when Fleer signed him away from Topps in 1959 and created an entire set devoted to Ted.
He was a six-time batting champion, nine-time slugging champion and the most feared hitter of his time with 12 seasons as the on base percentage leader. His career .482 on base percentage makes him the best ever, leading Babe Ruth who is second with .474 average. For a more recent comparison, Barry Bonds' lifetime on base percentage is only .444, 38 points behind Williams.
Our choice for the best Ted Williams card is the Topps 1955 #002. His cards were few, but his legend as the "best hitter in baseball" lives on.
You can check out Williams' statistics at Baseball Reference.