Fifty-five years ago, Fleer was looking for a way to maintain a presence in the baseball card market. With no MLB license, however, they had to get creative. Their solution? Find a strong-willed player popular enough to sign an exclusive contract and create a set around his life and times. The key was finding enough interesting moments to fill a set.
In Ted Williams, Fleer found its man. Enormously popular even as his career wound down and a guy who hadn’t always aligned himself with Topps, Williams was the perfect choice. He had led the American League in hitting in 1958 at age 40 and had done enough to be a shoo-in for Hall of Fame election.
The 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set went off without a hitch—until Topps officials saw card #68. The man pictured showing Ted signing his 1959 Red Sox contract at Fenway Park was new general manager Bucky Harris, who was under contract with Topps.
Now, the Associated Press photograph used to create that card is up for auction. In cooperation with RMY Auctions, our Photo of the Day is an 8×8 3/4” image of the moment that created some cardboard controversy.
The back includes a dated cutline and caption.
Auction house reps say it’s the first time they’ve seen the photo available to the public. Pulled from a newspaper archive where it sat undisturbed since being filed in the winter of 1959, the photo is in RMY’s current Fall Premier Auction, taking place through Saturday November 15.