Monday, January 9, 2012
The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 10: 1993-1994 Ted Williams
I've been meaning to do a post about these for a while now, but I wanted to get a few other "Gems of Junk Wax" ideas out of my system first.
What better way to start of a post about the Ted Williams set than with cards of Ted Williams?
The Ted Williams set was released in 1993 and 1994. According to the book Card Sharks, the set was the brainchild of a couple executives who previously worked for Upper Deck.
The men in charge of the set went to Ted Williams himself and asked for his opinion of the top players of the last half-century or so. As a result, many of these cards were picked by Ted Williams himself (hence the name of the set).
The set debuted in 1993 featuring a checklist entirely comprised of retired players and legends.
The double-image card fronts of the '93 offering are spectacular. Many of the short biographies on the backs of the '93 set were partly written by Ted Williams himself.
In my opinion, the 1994 Ted Williams issue is far better than its 1993 offering.
Many of the base cards do employ the double-image feature that was used in 1993, as seen with the Brooks Robinson card.
However, a handful of the base cards in the '94 set are single action shots, as seen with the Norm Cash. Whoever chose to just put the single image onto that card got it right. Taking away the massive crowd behind Cash in that photo would've been a crime.
Speaking of action shots, this is one of the greatest ever featured on a baseball card.
This card speaks volumes to both the elegance of the set and Billy Martin's hard-nosed style of play.
The facsimile signature that runs along the sides of the 1994 set shouldn't be ignored, either. They're part of the greatness of it.
The 1994 Ted Williams issue is the first set I can remember getting excited about as a kid. Each year, my dad would take a trip to Memphis with some friends. He'd always stop at the same card shop for me each time he went and brought me a smattering of packs.
These Ted Williams cards were always among those packs, and it became the first set I can remember taking a special interest in.
There's a wide range of subsets between the 1993 and 1994 base cards. I won't feature them all, but I'll show a few.
"Ted's Greatest Hitters of All-Time" was featured in 1993. I assume that these were a hand-picked collection of Ted Williams' favorite hitters.
Each feature a single image of a player along with the player's nickname inscribed into the top-right corner of the card.
As far as hitters go, it doesn't get any better than "The Georgia Peach".
1993 also featured the "Barrier Breakers" subset (seen on the right). Names such as Roy Campanella, Satchel Paige, and Monte Irvin are featured. This Joe Black is my favorite of the bunch. He doesn't get a lot of credit for it today, but Black was certainly one of the biggest players in African-Americans gaining a place in the majors.
The "Goin' North" subset is found within the 1994 base set. They give the collector a glimpse of a future superstar in their minor league days.
Check out those sideburns on Mike Schmidt!
"Ted Williams" also featured many great insert sets in its two-year existence as well.
The "Memories" inserts that were issued in both '93 (left) and '94 (right) document the finest seasons of various players.
I'll put the 1994 "Memories" insert set among the greatest inserts ever. The photo album theme is very fitting for the time period this set captures.
1994 featured the "500 Club" insert set, which speaks for itself.
Gracing the front of this card is one of the best action shots of the late Harmon Killebrew that I've ever seen.
These belong in a museum.
The "Locklear Collection" inserts from both years of the Ted Williams set are easily in my top five favorite inserts of all-time. No question about it.
Just look, don't touch.