Despite being just 19 years old, Ted Williams was in his third minor league season by the summer of 1938.
It would be his last.
Playing with the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association, Williams hit .366 with 46 homers and 142 RBI, winning the league’s Triple Crown. He’d join the Boston Red Sox and begin his Hall of Fame career the next season.
Not many images of the future Hall of Fame slugger exist from his minor league days, but a rare, perhaps one-of-a-kind press picture is our RMY Auctions Photo of the Day. Bidding had topped $1,600 with two days remaining in the company’s June Premier online catalog.
Williams was a huge story that summer and an NEA photographer got him to take a practice cut in front of the ballpark wall. After extensive research, auction officials say they believe it’s the first time this particular photo has ever been seen, calling it “easily among the two or three best photographs ever taken of Williams.” Measuring 6×10, it carries some minor editing marks on the back and front.
1938 was the year in which Williams acquired his nickname “The Kid”. He played for former major leaguer Donie Bush in Minneapolis and his hitting instructor was none other than Rogers Hornsby, who was regarded as one of the greatest hitters of all-time.
Hornsby’s work with Williams paid off and Hornsby told a reporter his young prospect would be “the sensation of the major leagues in three years”. Indeed. Three years later, Williams hit .406, joining Hornsby in a very exclusive club.