Astounding High-grade 1939 Ted Williams Rookie Card Certified by CGC Cards Realizes $99,000

Posted on 8/8/2023

The black-and-white rookie card featuring a young Ted Williams was sold through PWCC in July 2023.

A vintage, high-grade example of legendary slugger Ted Williams' rookie card that was certified by CGC Cards™ realized an astounding $99,000 at a recent auction, making it the most expensive CGC-certified sports card ever sold through PWCC. The 1939 Play Ball #92 Ted Williams graded CGC 9 was offered in a PWCC Premier Auction sale on July 6, 2023.

1939 Play Ball #92 Ted Williams graded CGC 9
Click images to enlarge.

The 1939 Play Ball set is the debut baseball card series from Gum, Incorporated, which helped transition sports cards to a larger 2-1/2" x 3-1/8" size compared to previous smaller cards of the early 20th century. The cards show a simple black-and-white image of each ballplayer included in the 161-card set. Several MLB Hall of Famers are found in the 1939 series, including an early card of New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio. However, the gem of the set is the only card to feature Williams from his rookie season with the Boston Red Sox.

Over his two-decades-long career (all with the Red Sox), Williams earned the distinction of being arguably the greatest hitter in MLB history. In the first four seasons of his young pro career, he was already a force to be reckoned with at the plate. Nicknamed "The Kid," "Teddy Ballgame" and "The Splendid Splinter," he posted a .406 batting average in 1941 (Williams is still the last player to ever finish a season with a batting average above .400), and by 1942, the slugger had been selected to three All-Star games. In addition, he won the Triple Crown (1942) and became the AL batting champion (1941, 1942), AL home run leader (1941, 1942) and the AL RBI leader (1939, 1942).

Williams' MLB career was put on hold, though, following the 1942 season, as he was required to serve for the next three years in the US Navy and Marine Corps during World War II. The famous baseball player became a fighter pilot who acted as an instructor in the South Pacific (and who later saw action during the Korean War).

Williams rejoined Boston for the 1946 baseball season, picking right back up where he left off, as he went on to play in 15 more seasons and racked up numerous more accolades. He ended his playing career in 1960 as a 19-time All-Star, two-time AL MVP, two-time Triple Crown winner and six-time AL batting champion. Williams still holds the MLB record for career on-base percentage (.482) and entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. A few decades later, in 1991, President George H. W. Bush presented Williams with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian award given to citizens in the US.

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