You may think you know Ted Williams baseball cards but chances are you haven’t seen this one—and it dates from the heart of his playing career.
One of only two graded examples of what’s considered the holy grail of rare Williams cards is being offered by Heritage Auctions.
The 1950 Menko JCM125 card is the best of the two examples known. Consigned by Bob Lapides, a long-time collector who owns one of the hobby’s top two Japanese card collections, it is expected to sell for $30,000 or more.
The other graded Menko Williams, in far lesser condition, sold for $15,000 in 2018.
The 1950 Menko JCM125 U.S. Major League set is one of the rarest Japanese baseball card sets ever made. It features six Hall of Famers including Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau and Johnny Mize.
It isn’t known how the set was originally issued, but with a scarcity factor of R5 (meaning 3 or fewer copies of each card are known to exist), only one complete set has ever been assembled.
The designation JCM stands for “Japanese Rectangular Menko” as cataloged by Gary Engel, the father of the “Japanese Baseball Cards Checklist and Price Guide.
Says Engel about the set, “American major leaguers are portrayed in this set. Red bordered fronts contain a player portrait. The images bear good likenesses to the players. The team name is printed in English. Cream color backs with blue ink text contain the player’s first initial in English and last name in Japanese printed down the center. Other information printed in Japanese includes ‘American Big Leagues’ across the top, with the team name at right, and the player’s position at left, just above a paper/scissors/rock symbol. A menko number appears at bottom.”
Lapides provided us with the translation of the Japanese text on the back.
Heritage is also offering the only known graded example of Bob Feller’s card from the same set.
The auction for both cards is set to close Thursday, May 7.