1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball Cards
During the years before the hobby's boom era that began around 1980, it was rare for an entire set to be devoted to a single player. While there were a couple of sets featuring Babe Ruth produced during the 1920s and a Jackie Robinson set issued in loaves of bread in 1947, the practice was still a bit of an anomaly. In 1959, it was Ted Williams' who would have a turn, with 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball.
The Frank H. Fleer Company had been making bubble gum since the 1920s but only dabbled in card issues occasionally through the 1950s. Sitting on the sidelines as other companies battled it out over exclusive player rights, Fleer kept their focus on profits and the bottom line. Eventually realizing that in order to maintain and grow their market share, they would have to throw their hat in the trading card ring. The company ended up making an aggressive pitch to one of the most popular player's of the era. When they successfully negotiated an exclusive contract with the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams, it gave them a big boost.
Despite being well on his way to winding down his career in 1959, Ted Williams was still one of the best and most popular players in the game. The 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball card set chronicles the Splendid Splinter's exploits, both on and off of the field. From being the last hitter to reach the .400 mark, earning two Triple Crown awards, and a host of milestone hits and highlight-reel plays, all are included in this cardboard biopic of Williams' life. Many of his activities away from baseball are noteworthy as well. His well documented years of U.S. military service in the Marines, during two wars is featured. He is also in the Fishing Hall of Fame, so two cards show him pursuing that passion. He is shown as a youth, and one card even shows him with Babe Ruth, and others feature hitting tips for young players.
Measuring a standard 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, the 80-card set displays a design similar in manner to that of other Fleer sets typical of the company's early years. A simple white border and a bat/ball design featuring Williams' name in the corner are exhibited on the front of the card. Most of the cards are laid out with a vertical orientation although there are several oriented horizontally depending on the image used. The card backs are dominated by a write-up explaining the picture shown on the front. Fleer's patented crown at the top of the card, contains the card number, and the words "Baseball's Greatest" and "Ted Williams" running across the bottom of the card.
One card in the set is one of the, naturally, scarcest cards of the postwar era. Card #68 is titled "Ted Signs for 1959" and features him signing his player contract for the season. However, it showed him with Red Sox GM Bucky Harris, who was still signed to an exclusive with Topps. As a result, the card had to be pulled from production. Reprints of the card made their way into the hobby during the 1970s, but a skilled eye will be able to detect them due to the moire pattern on the suit coat and pinkish tint. Most of the fake cards were stamped with a reproduction notice, but it's important to be certain that its authentic before spending a lot of money on one.
Sold in both six-card and eight-card wax packs, only the packs containing six cards were packaged with gum. The eight-card packs were much more difficult to find, leading some vintage experts to speculate that they were either a result of a packaging error or an early test that slipped through the cracks and into distribution. There are no known errors or variations in the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball set. Obvious condition issues often include centering but the primary complaint is the traditional staining as a result of the gum with which the cards were packaged.
An affordable set for the era, it's relatively small set size makes it attractive to many vintage collectors and is a must for any Boston Red Sox or Ted Williams collector.
Key 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball Cards:
1959 Fleer Ted Williams Set Checklist
Base Set Checklist
Featuring 80 cards
Base Set Checklist
2 Ted's Idol - Babe Ruth
3 Practice Makes Perfect
4 1934 - Ted Learns the Fine Points
5 Ted's Fame Spreads - 1935-36
6 Ted Turns Professional
7 1936 - From Mound to Plate
8 1937 - First Full Season
9 1937 - First Step to Majors
10 1938 - Gunning as a Pastime
11 1938 - Fiarst Spring Training
12 1939 - Burning Up Minors
13 1939 - Ted Shows He Will Stay
14 Outstanding Rookie of 1939
15 1940 - Licks Sophomore Jinx
16 1941 - Williams' Greatest Year
17 1941 - How Ted Hit .400
18 1941 - All Star Hero
19 1942 - Ted Wins Triple Crown
20 1942 - On to Naval Training
21 1943 - Honors for Williams
22 1944 - Ted Solos
23 1944 - Williams Wins His Wings
24 1945 - Sharpshooter
25 1945 - Ted Discharged
26 1946 - Off to Flying Start
27 July 9, 1946 - One Man Show
28 July 14, 1946 - The Williams Shift
29 July 21, 1946 - Ted Hits For the Cycle
30 1946 - Beating the Williams Shift
31 October 1946 - Sox Lose the Series
32 1946 - Most Valuable Player
33 1947 - Another Triple Crown for Ted
34 1947 - Ted Sets Runs Scored Record
35 1948 - Sox Miss Pennant
36 1948 - Banner Year for Ted
37 1949 - Sox Miss Out Again
38 1949 - Power Rampage
39 1950 - Great Start
40 July 11, 1950 - Ted Crashes into Wall
42 1951 - Williams Slowed By Injury
43 1951 - Leads Outfielders in Double Plays
44 1952 - Back to Marines
45 1952 - Farewell to Baseball?
46 1952 - Ready for Combat
47 1953 - Ted Crash Lands Jet
48 July 14, 1953 - Ted Returns
49 1953 - Smash Return
50 March 1954 - Spring Injury
51 May 16, 1954 - Ted is Patched Up
52 1954 - Ted's Comeback
53 1954 - Ted's Comeback is a Success
54 December 1954 - Ted Hooks a Big One
55 1955 - Ted Decides Retirement is "No Go"
56 1955 - 2,000th Major League Hit
57 1956 - Ted Reaches 400th Homer
58 1957 - Ted Williams Hits .388
59 1957 - Hot September for Ted
60 1957 - More Records for Ted
61 1957 - Outfielder Ted
62 1958 - Sixth Batting Title for Ted
63 Ted's All-Star Record
64 1958 - Daughter and Famous Daddy
66 1958 - Powerhouse
67 Two Famous Fishermen
68 January 23, 1959 - Ted Signs for 1959
69 A Future Ted Williams?
70 Ted Williams and Jim Thorpe
71 Hitting Fundamentals #1
72 Hitting Fundamentals #2
73 Hitting Fundamentals #3
74 Here's How!
75 Williams' Value to Red Sox
76 Ted's Remarkable "On Base" Record
77 Ted Relaxes
78 Honors for Williams
79 Where Ted Stands
80 Ted's Goals for 1959