Now let's squash any confusion. I'm not talking about this Billy:
This particular Billy isn't a whale. He's more like a fish swimming among a sea of collectors. There are plenty of him to be had. If you look closely at the photo of Billy on the back, there's the word "REDEEMED" stamped in gold at the bottom:
The one I have been trying to catch for years is the one without the stamp. He's been and with very good reason.
There's a mysterious story behind this Billy involving a redemption card that wasn't a redemption card that actually was a redemption card. Confused? You probably should be.
Years ago Donruss created cards for both Billy Williams and Sandy Koufax to sign. Billy returned them to the company on time. Sandy did not. Well... at least not on time. Eventually he did sign his cards and that's where the two cards' stories are entwined.
Donruss decided to give any collector who pulled a Billy the opportunity to send their copy back in exchange for two things:
#1: A 1998 Donruss Significant Signatures Sandy Koufax autograph.
#2: Their original Billy Williams autographed card with the special gold tattoo.
Up until that moment in time, there were only two other certified, pack pulled Koufax autographs in existence (both from 1995 Topps Archives), so obviously collectors who were holding onto a Billy were rushing to send theirs to Donruss.
When the dust settled, most of the Billies out there had been redeemed and stamped leaving an unknown amount of unstamped Billies floating sitting in collections or unopened material.
Then after years of searching, one finally appeared in the Bay. It was like seeing a wooly mammoth. I wasn't actually sure any still existed, so you can imagine my excitement.
Unfortunately... I wasn't the only collector to discover Billy the White Whale swimming in the Bay. We ended up getting into a epic bidding war (actually there were only two bids), but I refused to go down without a fight. $27 (+ $5 shipping) later... I had caught my whale.
It's a little hard to see, but if you look closely at his back, you'll noticed that he never had "REDEEMED" tattooed on him.
Now I've heard a rumor that Panini (who now owns the rights to Donruss) often redeems expired redemption cards. I wonder if they'd accept my Billy?
We'll never know, because I've waited too many years to risk getting my whale tattooed. However if any of you out there own another copy of this rare Billy... I double dog dare you to try it.
Happy Thursday and sayonara!