The 1959 Fleer Ted Williams baseball cards issue was sort of the final salvo in the apparently tense relationship The Splendid Splinter had with Topps.

For the first few years of its existence, Topps wasn’t able to get Williams’ name on a contract at all. Then, when they did, in 1954, rival Bowman went ahead and issued a Teddy Ballgame card anyway.

That led to a cease-and-desist type thing, which led to that ’54 Bowman being super scarce.

1959-Fleer-Ted-Williams

Then, after a solid five-year run with Topps, Williams signed an exclusive deal with upstart Fleer, who we would soon learn had designs on something much more expansive in the card market.

Indeed, the 80-card Williams set also became the opening salvo in Fleer’s two-decades-long battle for the right to produce full sets of current players.

But before any of that could happen, collectors were treated to these 12 beauties, the most valuable 1959 Fleer Ted Williams baseball cards, as listed for PSA 7 copies in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.

1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Ted Signs for 1959 (#68)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Ted Signs for 1959

This card has vexed collectors for decades, because it’s so much harder to find than the rest of the Williams set.

So … what’s the deal, here? Why is this a $475 card in PSA 7 while none of the other cards in the set push much past $100?

Well … it turns out you can blame the Topps monopoly.

See, Williams appears on this card with Red Sox general manager Bucky Harris, who was still under contract with Topps. Evidently, Topps had a problem with the card when they learned about it (however that may have happened).

The story goes that, when collectors who were trying to complete the set in 1959 couldn’t find #68, they contacted Fleer. The company responded that they’d had to pull the card due to “legal overtones” — but they sent a copy to the inquiring collectors, anyway.

“Just don’t sell it!”

So, there you go — scarcity, not impossibility.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – The Early Years (#1)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams The Early Years

What can we learn from this card?

That young Ted and his buds used a baseball bat as a makeshift maypole?

That people actually live — and grow up — in a land of palm trees and blue skies?

That it takes several boys to pick the price tag off the end a baseball bat knob?

That old #1 cards purporting to show Hall of Fame players can carry a premium (rubber bands and scuffing, don’t ya know?), regardless of what the card actually looks like?

Yeah, that’s it.

This #1 is a $100 card in PSA 7.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Ted’s Idol (Babe Ruth) (#2)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Ted_s Idol (Babe Ruth)

Has there ever been more talent on a two-player baseball card than this one showing Williams and The Babe?

Has there ever been one with a higher combined saltiness-plus-hard-living quotient?

Hard to say for sure, but it’s easy to see why this card sits near the top of the 1959 Fleer value tree, at about $75 for copies in PSA 7.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Ted’s Goals for 1959 (#80)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Ted_s Goals for 1959

What do you do to psyche yourself up for your 21st season in the Majors when you’re already one of the greatest hitters ever to play the game?

Following the Splendid Splinter model, you marvel at your likeness in a painting proffered by fans of another team (Baltimore Orioles), and you set some goals.

Like … 500 home runs, 2600 hits, 1800 RBI, 2000 walks.

Ho hum. Just another mediocre season on the road to Cooperstown.

This is a $50+ buy in slabbed NM condition.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Ted’s All-Star Record (#63)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Ted_s All Star Record

Man, that Teddy Ballgame really crumbled under the pressure of All-Star Games, where his average slid all the way to .317 in 14 contests through 1958.

Only hit four dingers, too.

Still took a mean bat-on-shoulder portrait, though, like the classic one on this $50 card.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – First Spring Training (Jimmie Foxx) (#11)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams First Spring Training (Jimmie Foxx)

You think spending Spring Training in 1938, and then his first few seasons with the Red Sox, playing alongside the great Jimmie Foxx had any effect on Williams?

Think it helped the Splinter set some goals?

I don’t know, but consider that Foxx finished with a .325 batting average, 2646 hits, and 534 home runs … and that Williams went .344, 2654, 521.

Hmmm …

Whatever the case, this is about a $40 card in PSA 7.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Williams’ Value to Red Sox (#75)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Williams Value to Red Sox

What was Ted Williams’ value to the Red Sox over the years?

A photo op with Eddie Collins and Babe Ruth, based on the cardboard evidence here.

Or, like, 123 wins, according to Baseball Reference.

Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.

Whatever. This Ted Williams is worth, like, $40 to collectors in slabbed NM condition.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Ted Williams/Jim Thorpe (#70)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Ted Williams _ Jim Thorpe

Put Jim Thorpe and Ted Williams on a baseball card and you have enough talent in one little rectangle to …

  • Fly a fighter jet
  • Go pro in football and baseball … and win all sorts of Gold at the Olympics
  • Hit .400
  • Be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Be inducted into the College football Hall of Fame

And all that for the low, low price of $35 in PSA 7.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Two Famous Fisherman (#67)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Two Famous Fisherman

What do two guys with legendary swings in different sports do when they get together in the off-season?

Why, they go fishing, of course!

And, in the case of Ted Williams and golfer Sam Snead, they start a fishing supply and equipment company.

That would be Ted Williams, Inc.

Didn’t think Teddy would lose naming rights to Sammy, did you?

Heck no!

Anyway, the two swingin’ fishermen bring in about $30 in PSA 7 condition.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – First Step to the Majors (#9)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Ted_s First Step (Collins)

This card details how Red Sox General Manager Eddie Collins visited San Diego in 1936 to check out a second baseman the Padres were grooming.

While there, a young outfielder with an out-of-this world caught Collins’ eye, and the GM came calling with a buyout check the next year.

I’ll let you guess who that lad was.

And, no — no word that I can see on what happened to the keystone guy.

This “first meeting” card is a $25 buy in PSA 7.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – How Ted Hit .400 (#17)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams How Ted Hit .400

“Basically, for every ten at-bats, I just made sure to pick up at least four hits.”

Um, thanks, Ted.

Asking Ted Williams how to hit .400 is a bit like asking Bud Selig how to coif the perfect comb-over — some guys just have it, and there’s nothing they can do to impart their talent to you.

You could pay $25 for this card, though, and dream about what that kind of glory must feel like.

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1959 Fleer Ted Williams – Where Ted Stands (#79)

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Where Ted Stands

Judging by the image on this card, I think it’s pretty clear that Ted Williams stands at the top of the alpha male pyramid.

Thanks for asking, though.

And thanks for the nightmare visual, Fleer.

You can buy your own PSA 7 version of this bad dream for around $25.

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1959 FLEER TED WILLIAMS BASEBALL NO.72 TEDS HITTING FUNDAMENTALS #2

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1959 FLEER TED WILLIAMS BASEBALL NO.2 TEDS IDOL- BABE RUTH

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1959 FLEER TED WILLIAMS BASEBALL NO.78 HONORS FOR WILLIAMS

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1959 FLEER TED WILLIAMS BASEBALL NO.11 FIRST SPRING TRAINING

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1959 FLEER TED WILLIAMS BASEBALL NO.16 WILLIAMS GREATEST YEAR

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