Monday, December 13, 2010

#488 Ted Wills

#488 Ted Wills
Looking at Ted Wills' jersey made me wonder if the Reds have always worn "Cincinnati" across their chests on the road. According to the "Dressed to the Nines" uniform database, they have done so since 1961, so they've got a 50-year streak going. Prior to that, they switched things up a lot. Check out these unusual threads from 1936!

Fun facts about Ted Wills:

-Ted was born in Fresno, CA and attended the California State University campus in Fresno before signing with the Red Sox in 1955.

-He debuted with Boston in 1959 at age 25. On May 30, he went the distance to beat the Orioles 8-3 in his first career start, scattering 11 hits in the process.

-Overall, Wills took his lumps as a rookie, allowing 68 hits (including 9 home runs) in 56.1 innings and walking 24 while striking out 24 as well. His ERA was 5.27.

-Ted spent the second half of the 1960 season with the Red Sox and struggled even more, pitching to a 7.42 ERA in 30.1 innings. He did earn his first save on July 3 by slamming the door on the A's with 2.1 perfect innings. It's not often that a pitcher is credited with a save in a 13-2 game; it was 4-2 when Ted was summoned in the seventh, and Boston scored eight runs in the bottom of that inning and tacked on another in the eighth!

-He opened the 1961 season in Beantown but posted an ugly 11-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19.2 innings, contributing to a 5.95 ERA. He didn't pitch after June 24.

-The Red Sox finally gave up on Wills early on in 1962 and sold him to the Reds. He improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to a career-best 2.52-to-1 in 26 appearances, but was still hittable (61 hits and 12 HR in 61 innings) and finished with a 5.31 ERA for Cincy.

-He was shunted to the minor leagues in 1963, where he won 27 games during the next two seasons with Cincinnati's AAA San Diego club.

-The White Sox aquired Ted in 1965 and kept him on the major league roster for the first two months of the season. Pitching in relief, he had a tidy 2.84 ERA, two wins, and a save, but a closer look shows that he just got lucky. He was still giving up plenty of hits (17 in 19 innings) and walks (14), and 7 of the 13 runners that he inherited (54%) scored on his watch. He spent the rest of that year in the minors and never pitched in organized ball again.

-Perhaps he was miscast as a pitcher. He notched 11 hits (including 3 doubles) in 44 career at-bats for a .250 average.

-For his career, Wills was 8-11 with 5 saves and a 5.51 ERA in parts of five years.
#488 Ted Wills (back)


  1. I love the 65 set. At the time, I wondered about so many of the players I had never heard of and this guy was one of those. He had not been in the bigs for 2 seasons and really would not have had a card except for the Fleer defections.
    Two plus seasons was a lifetime when you are 10. The best set ever but with some real marginal players included.

  2. This was the first set I bought a lot of as a kid, but I didn't know about the Fleer defections until reading this blog - very interesting. Can't quite place that stadium Ted Wills is standing in - doesn't look like the Polo Grounds, but could be.

  3. I agree--this set in my opinion was Topps best effort of that era--the card layout with pennant, cartoon,complete year-by-year stats...I'm not sure why Topps would have issued this card, though...he started the season with the White Sox and this was a late-numbered card--either the last series release or 2nd last.

  4. Anon - In a way it adds to the charm of the set, makes it more unique. The picture used for this card is probably two years old!

    Doug - The other readers alerted me to the Fleer defections as well.

    Brox - The Sox acquired him on April 7, so it was probably late enough for Topps to miss.

  5. I lived in Fresno in the early 70's His father Ted Wills Sr was the elected mayor for 8 years