Billy Williams was one of the first legends of the game to respond to my Through-the-Mail (TTM) surge in 2007 and 2008. I was reconnecting with the game back in those years, and while I wouldn't get back into cards or following current seasons until 2011, I was once again enchanted with the game's stories and history. Specifically, I had started working with and befriended another fan who had enjoyed a lot of recent success with TTM requests. He gladly shared mailing address information with me and I soon had a make-shift, cottage industry memorabilia pursuit factory running out of my office.
During breaks and after hours, of course!
Anyways, I organized a complete list of all living members of the Hall of Fame. Working forward from the oldest, I began sending letters and cards and baseballs as frequently as my budget allowed (and often more frequently than that). I would pick up Rawlings Official MLB's from the local sporting goods stores and send them off without a moment's pause....you see, I was always an optimist AND my wife and I were still enjoying the fruits of our DINK era.
Sweet-Swinging Billy Williams was one of the first to respond and so he has always held a special place in my collection. I'm not a Cubs fan, but with the combination of constant childhood WGN telecast exposure and my recent adoption of Anthony Rizzo as an official paisan....the Cubbies are right up there. All this to say that I always try to pick up a Williams card when I can for my vintage collection.
Then I spotted this beauty for less than half the cost of blaster.....
This card is gorgeous. It was listed as GOOD/VG in its listing but I have a feeling it would grade out as a VG if that grading ever went down. There is a hairline crease to the right of Billy's right hand. It slants upward from left to right, ending where the edge of the photo meets the top of Wrigley's brick wall. Hmmm.
No matter, this is a sweet copy of Billy's rookie card! A Hall of Famer's rookie card! These are few and far between for me, particularly when you start stretching back to the 60's. The card itself is in great shape. It presents very nicely with some excellent centering (a challenge for some '61s) and eye-popping color. I know, the red and yellow standard that Topps decided to go with here does absolutely nothing in combination with the blue and white of Williams' uniform....but the color itself is nice and bright, which makes for an awesome vintage enjoying experience! The corners aren't too bad, either.
The Star-Rookie logo is as simple as it gets, but it's perfectly placed in the top right corner. IN fact, while action shots are always preferred over these posed nuances, the total outcome for the front of this card is fantastically balanced and suits my OCD-tendencies very nicely. On top of everything is a great sneak peek at Wrigley Field in the background (I'm 99% certain....can anybody confirm?). I'm sold!
Was the back mangled?
Let me know if you see something that I have missed (unless it's a fake....just let me go to my grave with that one), but the back looks just as sharp as the front! Williams was a fairly tall fellow at 6'1" and, on an unrelated note, I had no idea there is a Whistler, Alabama. I've been to a Whistler in Canada before, though. It's a fabulous ski-resort town where did not skit one freaking bit! It was a Valentine's Day getaway for me and Mrs. Ryan's Pitch after I returned from deployment back in....oh, it had to be 2004? My God, 10 years. She wasn't even 'Mrs.' yet.....but that trip was some of my finest campaigning!
As we can see, Billy's debut in Chicago for 18 games during the '59 campaign was quite the tepid cup of coffee. He returned again in '60 for a nice showing, slugging 2 long balls and batting .277 over 47 plate appearances. This was more in line with the domination he had displayed in the farm system, as you can see in both his stat line with Houston along with the always welcomed card back cartoon!
This back is well-centered, too and doesn't show any staining or discolorations that I can see. Beautiful.
You just can't go wrong with a vintage card, that is a rookie card, that is in decent condition, that is of a player who is now in the Hall of Fame, for less than ten bucks. You just can't.
Welcome to my Hall of Fame Collection, Sweet-Swinging Billy! Mighty glad to have you home!
Thanks for reading and KEEP COLLECTING!