Centered around one of the greatest ballplayers of all-time, 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball pays homage to "The Splendid Splinter."
The 80-card set is largely affordable, but a few key cards can stretch the budget.
1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball Set Details
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.
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. In order to maintain and grow their market share, Fleer eventually realized they would have to throw their hat into the trading card ring. The company ended up making an aggressive pitch to one of the most popular players of the era. When they successfully negotiated an exclusive contract with Ted Williams, it understandably gave them a big boost.
Measuring a standard 2-1/2" by 3-1/2", the 80-card set displays a design similar in manner to that of other Fleer sets 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 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball 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, with the words "Baseball's Greatest Ted Williams" running alongside it.
Despite being on the downward slope of his career in 1959, Ted Williams was still one of the best and most popular players in the game. 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball chronicles the exploits of "Teddy Ballgame," 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.
While the set is clearly centered around Ted Williams, many other notable subjects are paired on cards with the former great. This include fellow baseball players Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Eddie Collins, as well as football star Jim Thorpe and famed golfer Sam Snead. Coming as no surprise, the two cards that include Babe Ruth are especially popular with collectors.
Many of his activities away from baseball are noteworthy as well. His well-documented years of U.S. military service in the Marines over two wars is featured in 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball. He is also in the Fishing Hall of Fame, are two cards show him pursuing that passion. Not just limited to his adult years, Williams is shown in his youth, while others feature hitting tips for young players.
Much to the dismay of set collectors, one card in 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball can be tougher to locate. Card #68 is titled "Ted Signs for 1959" and features him signing his player contract for the season. However, it also included Red Sox GM Bucky Harris, who was still signed to an exclusive with Topps at the time. As a result, the card had to be pulled from production, pushing values up. Despite this relative scarcity, the card does not appear to be as rare as once thought.
Unfortunately, reprints of the elusive #68 card made their way into the hobby during the 1970s, but a skilled eye should be able to detect them due to the moire pattern on the suit coat and pinkish tint. Most of the fake cards are also 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 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball packs containing six cards were packaged with gum. The eight-card packs were much less common, 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. The relatively small set size of 1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball 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
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1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball 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 - First 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
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