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Williams items hard to evaluate

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</I>A homeowner who is an avid Red Sox fan found a Ted Williams pennant, three baseball cards and a photograph in the eaves of house.

A homeowner who is an avid Red Sox fan found a Ted Williams pennant, three baseball cards and a photograph in the eaves of house.

Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Helaine and Joe: I found this Ted Williams pennant, plus three of his baseball cards and a photograph, in the eaves of a house I purchased a number of years ago.

I had them framed on a felt backing. I am an avid Red Socks fan and am thrilled to have these pieces but would like more information. Thank you. —K.K. Mount Vernon, N.H.

Dear K.K.: It is unfortunate that we cannot see the baseball cards or the Williams photograph well enough to be able to evaluate them. Collectors have become so picky about the condition of baseball cards that they are now being professionally graded with a system that is very similar to the one used to grade coins.

Several specialty companies do this, including Beckett Publication, Professional Sports Authenticator, Sports Card Guarantee and Global Authentication among others. Sports cards are usually graded with a number such as 92 — as in 92 out of 100 — or 8, which would mean 8 out of a possible 10. These numbers relate to whether the example is mint, near mint, excellent/mint, excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.

To be considered in mint condition, a card must have four sharp corners, be well centered on the card stock, have smooth edges, have its original color border and its original gloss. A bent corner or a crease is a disaster that can send a card into the fair or poor category and the price plummeting into an absolute abyss. We fear that mounting these cards on felt may have seriously damaged them, and we would not even want to suggest a value without a very close in-person examination.

Theodore Samuel Williams was born in San Diego, Calif., in 1918 and played his first major league baseball game on April 20, 1939, against the New York Yankees. He spent his entire career playing for the Boston Red Sox, but he spent two stints in the United States Marine Corps as a pilot in both World War II and the Korean War.

Early in his career, Williams said that he wanted to be the "greatest hitter who ever lived," and there are many baseball fans who feel that he achieved that goal. He was the last player to hit at least .400 in a season and his overall career batting average was .344 (seventh best of all time). Williams retired from baseball in 1960, and for his final at bat, he hit a home run — the perfect end to a great career.

There is a lot of Williams memorabilia out there — some of it old and some of it new. He wrote several books with John Underwood, including "My Turn at Bat: My Story of My Life," "Fishing the Big Three: Tarpon, Bonefish, Atlantic Salmon" and "The Science of Hitting."

First editions of these books, in fine condition, with their dust jackets, signed by Williams can fetch prices in the $500 to $650 range each. Other, items such as an unautographed Hall of Fame postcard issued by Perez-Steele Galleries in 1981 can fetch $50 or more, and a Hartland Plastics Company statue of Williams from the early 1960s can bring more than $200 in perfect condition.

The pennant owned by K.K. is reportedly a stadium giveaway from the 1940s, and if it is in great condition (yes, collectors count the number of tack holes and check for moth problems), it has an insurance replacement value of between $100 and $150.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of the "Country Living: American Glassware — What Is It is? What Is It Worth?" (House of Collectibles, $19.95). Questions can be mailed to them at P.O. Box 12208, Knoxville, TN 37912-0208.