Description1955 Ted Williams Game Worn Fielder's Glove. Ted Williams once said, "A man has to have goals - for a day, for a lifetime. That was mine: to have people say, 'There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'" One is forced to conclude that he achieved this, considering he smacked 500 home runs, amassed 2,600 hits, walked 2,000 times, and won two Triple Crowns, all in spite of losing nearly five seasons to military service. Williams is so single-mindedly associated with the art of hitting that one could be forgiven for almost forgetting that he spent half of his baseball life in the outfield, much of it in the shadow of the famed Green Monster of Fenway Park. And while few would argue that anything in Williams' life took precedence over his obsession with hitting, the Hall of Fame Red Sox outfielder was, at his core, a competitor.
We hear so often, in that ancient debate, that Williams was the superior hitter, but Joe DiMaggio was the better all-around player. And while fielding percentage surely tells only part of the story, it's interesting to note that after over 4,000 games between these two legends, only .004 separates them. The Kid, a left-handed pull hitter, was actually no slouch beneath the towering weirdness of Fenway's Green Monster, posting an entirely respectable .978 lifetime fielding average in that most unusual of outfields. He ranks sixth and ninth in the career statistics for left field putouts and assists respectively.
Fielding gloves are the toughest of quarry for the collector, unquestionable the rarest weapon in a Big Leaguer's arsenal. Bats come and go and multiple uniforms for each season are replaced the next, but gloves only improve with age and are often worn for multiple seasons, to the brink of ruin. Baseball players have a special connection to their gloves -- though many will allow a teammate to borrow a bat, a ballplayer who will allow another man to use his glove is a rare breed. A glove is like an extension of a player's hand; when you slip one on, it becomes a part of you. Bats, uniforms, caps, shoes come and go. In each case, it is generally considered that age and use will not improve these things, and so no great sentimentality is typically attached. Only the glove, like fine wine or old friends, improves and becomes more dear to a ballplayer with each passing day, as the leather becomes more supple, conforms to the hand in such a unique way that a Ted Williams glove, for example, could only fit Ted Williams exactly.
Like Cinderella's slipper, this glove could only belong to one. Consider the incident a few years ago when Derek Jeter's glove was stolen from his spring training locker. Surely he has lost countless bats, caps and jerseys to locker room theft over the years, but the loss of his glove was so serious that it dominated the New York sporting press, even before the culprit, a teammate, was apprehended. It seems entirely plausible that any glove used by Ted Williams was dear to him and used for quite a long time, as gloves used by Williams are almost nonexistent. Dozens of bats belonging to Williams have found their way to the auctioneer's block, as have several of his Red Sox uniforms.
In the world of collectibles, there are only three other Ted Williams gloves known to exist, including one in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Now, a fourth has been located! Here we present just the second Ted Williams glove we've ever handled, consigned to this Platinum Night auction by the man who acquired it personally as a boy in 1955.
His letter of provenance recounts his fortunate youth as the grandson of the general manager of the House of Old Molineaux, a bottler and wholesaler on Lansdowne Street directly across the street from Fenway, and owner of season seats in the first row behind the Sox dugout. "One day in the summer of 1955," he writes, "my grandfather surprised me by bringing me into the Red Sox clubhouse through his friendship with Johnny Orlando, the Red Sox clubhouse manager. We were talking sports and he could see my love for the Red Sox, especially Ted Williams. He left for a couple minutes and returned with two gloves used by Ted Williams. I played Little League and Babe Ruth baseball with one glove and later my own children used that same glove. The second Ted Williams' glove, which is part of the Heritage's auction, has not been used since that day in 1955. It is exactly as it was when Ted last used it."
The glove shows tremendous game wear, and was certainly Ted's main glove for a full season at the very least, and likely for two or three. It's clear that the history of several hundreds of games in left field is soaked into the heavily oiled leather of this important relic, and that Ted only saw fit to part with it when his trusted fielding friend had reached the absolute end of its utility. The pocket of the glove shows the tremendous wear of thousands of fly balls from the likes of Mantle and Kaline.
Leading glove expert Joe Phillips weighs in on the signature model Wilson glove, which he assigns a production date of "1955 to 1957." He confirms that it is "a full size professional-level mitt that would have been typically used by Williams," noting that "The glove exhibits very extensive use. Stamping is faded on this glove not enabling us to determine the exact model number, which could be A2034 or A2040, both top line Wilson Pro Models." A vintage number "9" is handwritten in ink at the right edge of the wrist strap. He further states that "The quality of the leather on this glove separates it from that of retail models". Phillips concludes, "It is our opinion that this was a professional quality glove very likely worn by Ted Williams during the mid-1950's." LOA from Joe Phillips/The Glove Collector.
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