2023 February Finest Auction

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Winning baseball’s Triple Crown has been likened to winning the lottery – yet unlike the lottery which only requires one to purchase a ticket and hope the numbers match, the Triple Crown requires a rare talent that enables a ballplayer to lead his league in average, home runs and runs batted in. As one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, Ted Williams was no stranger to the Triple Crown. In 1942, his last season before enlisting in the Marines, Ted accomplished this rare feat, cementing his reputation as one of baseball’s greatest hitters before he went away to face the uncertainties of war.

Four years later, Ted returned to the Red Sox and helped lead his club to the World Series. Though he hit .342 with 38 home runs and 123 RBI and won the American League MVP Award, Williams was a disappointment in the Fall Classic, managing to hit only .200 with a single RBI. As had become commonplace throughout his career, Williams had to face calls that his best days were behind him. It appeared that even his team had lost faith in him when he was purported to be traded to the Yankees for Joe DiMaggio. When the Yankees refused to throw in a rookie catcher named Larry Berra, the trade was called off and Williams remained with the Red Sox. And, as he did every time he was faced with reports that his career was through, Ted doubled-down and proved them wrong.

For the 1947 season, the “Splendid Splinter” led the A.L. with a .343 average, 32 homers and 114 RBI to capture his second Triple Crown. Besides leading the league in average, homers and RBI, Ted also topped out in runs, walks, on-base percentage, total bases and slugging. In recognition of his almost complete dominance of every offensive category, many expected Williams to be named the year’s Most Valuable Player, but in one of the most shocking MVP voting upsets, Joe DiMaggio was given the nod. It later became known that Williams was denied the Award because one writer left him completely off his ballot in an anonymous and cowardly show of animosity towards the Red Sox star. Despite not being named MVP, Williams’ 1947 season remains as one of the finest ever recorded in the history of the game.

Presented here is the 1947 Triple Crown trophy Ted Williams was awarded for baseball’s rarest single season accomplishment. He and Rogers Hornsby are the only players ever do it twice. The trophy stands 14” tall and features a stone-encrusted golden crown with red velvet interior surmounted by a silver batter. The crown is set on a 5 x 5 x 3-inch wood block with an engraved plaque reading “SEGRAMS TRIPLE CROWN 1947 Ted Williams HR. 32  R.B.I. 114  Pct. .343” and is further supported with a 6 x 6 x 0.75-inch wood base. The trophy comes in good overall condition with some light wear and tear, mostly to the red velvet of the crown. The golden crown and stones remain bright, though there is some cracking visible on one side. The wood base shows light wear and scuffs from display and age, and the silver batter has some tarnishing in the base area. The bottom of the trophy has the remains of a label and displays the expected contact scuffs and scratches.

A detailed letter of provenance from Williams’ daughter Claudia documents its ownership history. The piece was acquired decades ago by renowned collector Barry Halper and was put up for auction when he liquidated his collection in 1999 (repairs were made to the base prior to that Sotheby's sale). At this point, Ted wished to reclaim the piece and a trade was negotiated between the buyer and ballplayer. The trophy remained in the Hall of Famer’s possession until his death in 2002, whereupon the trophy was passed down to his son John Henry. Two years later when John Henry died, the trophy was willed to Ted’s daughter, Claudia, who graciously allowed it to be displayed to the public – first in Fenway Park and most recently at the Louisville Slugger Museum. A one-of-a-kind Hall of Fame-worthy piece that both embodies and recognizes Ted Williams’ drive to make himself the greatest hitter of all-time.

Includes LOA from Claudia F. Williams.

Note Regarding Restoration:  Photographs from the 1999 Sotheby’s Barry Halper Collection catalog show that the trophy had damage to the structure of the crown at the time of that auction. Specifically, the front of the crown showed large cracks causing separation of the rim and the front leg.  At some point after the Halper sale the crown underwent restoration at the direction of the buyer. It was later reacquired by the Williams family in its present restored state. While we do not have access to a detailed report of the restoration work, it appears to us through comparative analysis of the image that the original structure of the gold crown portion was replaced. It appears to us that all other elements, including the red felt, figural batter, wood base and engraved nameplate are original and unchanged.

1947 Ted Williams Triple Crown Award Trophy - Williams Family LOA
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