Saturday, February 25, 2012

1971 TOPPS TED WILLIAMS

OWNING A WILLIAMS CARD IS A TREAT,
EVEN ONE OF HIS MANAGER CARDS.
LOVE THE GREEN ON THE '71 BACKS.

THE FRONT PAGE 

  • Mention "Ted Williams'' to me and two images come to mind: His classic batting follow through and my Ted Williams model Sears glove, which was my first. His career as a manager never enters my mind, but he did leave his mark on the Washington Senators.

THE BACK PAGE 

  • True, this is a manager card, but Topps made sure to cover his legendary batting highlights at the end of his career.
  • Islamorada, located in the Florida Keys, is misspelled.
  • Nobody could make a sourpuss quite like Teddy Ballgame.

PHOTO PLAY

  • And few could smile as broadly as The Kid when the mood struck.
  • I don't know if it was planned or not, but I like how the photographer left some blank space on the right that Williams is smiling into. All in all, a very happy card.
  • Although hard to see, you get a glimpse of Ted's autograph, the best in the business.

EXTRA, EXTRA 

  • The Senators hired Williams in 1969, luring him from a retirement as a full-time fisherman in Florida. His four-year managerial record was 273-364, leading the Senators to their first winning record (86-76) in his first season, a 21-game improvement.  He was named '69 AL Manager of the Year.
  • He had losing records afterward (including 63-96 in '71). He retired after the team's first season in Texas in '72, when the Rangers finished 54-100.
  • "All managers are losers; they are the most expendable pieces of furniture on the face of the Earth,'' a cheery Williams was quoted by the Baseball Almanac website long after his managerial career ended.
  • It's hard to get an accurate read on how good a manager Williams was. You can't necessarily go by his record; to be a great manager, you need great players. Williams didn't have great players.
  • Former utility player Dick Billings, who played eight years in the bigs, had this take in Ted Williams: Remembering the Splendid Splinter by the Boston Herald: "When it came to hitting, he knew more than any manager I ever played for. But when it came to positioning infielders and moving runners along and all that stuff, he wasn't much interested. He left that to his coaches. I mean, he saw that those kind of things got taken care of, but that was about it.''
  • Probably his biggest contribution was helping with the game's integration. In '69, Hank Allen, Dick Allen's brother, said the Senators had not been fair to black players in '68, but Williams had changed the culture.
  • Williams used his Hall of Fame induction in '66 to campaign for inclusion of Negro League stars.
  • The story told most often about Williams the manager occurred during one spring training, when two of Williams' coaches argued about the proper way to do a rundown drill. Williams was asked to intervene. After listening to both, he said, "To hell with it. Let's just hit.''

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