Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ted Williams (#650)

Today we have Ted Williams' rookie card (as a manager). This is the 2nd Senators' manager card in the 1969 set. Jim Lemon's card appeared earlier in the set, but he had been fired before the start of the season, after a 10th place finish in 1968, his only season as a manager. (Topps had also issued 2 manager cards for the Houston Astros in 1966.)

After a long career with the Red Sox (1939-1960), Teddy Ballgame had been out of baseball for several years. (I seem to recall he was a spokesman for fishing gear - maybe for Sears.) In 1969, the Senators came calling, and Williams spent 4 seasons as their manager, including the team's first season as the Texas Rangers. The team finished in 4th, 5th, and 6th during his tenure, an improvement over 1968's 10th-place finish.

Williams is also credited with imparting his hitting knowledge to his players, most notably to perennial weak-hitting shortstop Ed Brinkman. Brinkman routinely batted below the Mendoza line during his career up through 1968. In his 2 seasons under Williams' guidance, he batted above .260. After Ed was traded to the Tigers in 1971, he reverted back to his previous lackluster batting averages for the remainder of his career.

Williams was replaced for 1973 by Whitey Herzog, who didn't make it to the end of the season.


Hackenbush said...

I remember reading that Ted was not all that happy as manager. He looks that way in this photo.

Douglas said...

Its interesting to look at the Senators team stats and management moves during William's tenure. Wins increased by 21 games in 1969 mostly due to improved hitting that year. Hitting subsequently goes down hill in the subsequent years, but I mostly blame the Denny McClain deal for the Senators/Rangers decline. It must drove Williams to drink managing the first year Rangers with a .217 BA and 56 home runs.

Jim from Downingtown said...


As this photo was probably taken during his 1st spring training, he was probably regretting his return to baseball.

In the mid-1960s, I always had the notion that the Senators and A's were relegated to the 9th and 10th spots in the AL, but soon the Yankees (as well as the Pilots and Royals) would keep everyone else out of the basement.