Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Twenty-Four of 24

Last week, I was on my annual trip to Ashland, Oregon when I heard the news that Willie Mays passed away.  It was one of those moments where it felt like everything around me paused to allow me to soak in the news.

Mays was literally one of the greatest to ever play the game, but he played his final MLB game a little over a week after I turned one.  In other words, I never had the opportunity to watch him play in person.  Even if I had, I wouldn't remember it.  Thankfully there are enough interviews, documentaries, statistical data, and highlight films out there to cement The Say Hey Kid's legacy.  Plus he has been a Bay Area resident and fan favorite since the Giants left New York and moved to San Francisco in 1958.

I've never considered myself a Giants fan.  However I am a baseball fan and a collector who likes collect just about anything related to the sport.  Over the years, I've added a few of his cards and collectibles to my collection and today I wanted to show off twenty-four of them as a tribute to him.

Most of the stuff are cards, but there are a couple of other items included.  Originally, I was going to rank them... but that was easier said than done.  Instead... I've just put them in chronological order.

Here we go...

1955 Red Man #7

Yeah, I know.  Many of you aren't into slabbed cards.  But when it comes to vintage, it gives me a little peace of mind.  The ranking thing might not have happened, but I guarantee this card would have been in the Top 5, along with this card:

1956 Topps #130

The 1956 Topps baseball set is my favorite baseball card set design of all-time, so you know this card is going to be one of my favorite cards of Mays.

1956 Topps #31

If you're wondering why I included Hank Aaron's card in this post, it's because the painting of him sliding into home was actually based on a photograph of Willie.

1963 Topps #3

One of my favorite side PC's is my collection of Topps league leader cards that depict only hall of famers.  This card is the coolest one I own, because it features five of them... four of which were first ballot hall of famers.

1964 Topps #9

San Francisico Giants fans must have been pretty excited to see three of the top four home run hitters in the NL hitting for them.  They led the National League with 197 home runs that year.  The Atlanta Braves were a distant second with 139.

1964 Topps Giants #51

I absolutely love this oddball issue.  In fact, it's one of my favorite baseball sets from the 1960's.

1962-65 Jay Publishing Photo

This is one of those non-card items I was referring to at the beginning of the post.  This photo is printed on super thin paper... almost like newsprint.  I'm guessing they were mass produced, because they sell for a fraction of what vintage baseball cards sell for.

1966 Topps #1

I'm guessing a kid who pulled Willie's 1966 Topps card would have been pretty stoked back in the day.  He was coming off his MVP Award winning season in which he led the National League in a bunch of different categories including home runs, slugging percentage, and on base percentage.

1966 Topps #215

How could I not include this card?  My only complaint about this card is the photo selection.  It would have been so much cooler had they all been looking in the same direction.

1967 Topps #423

This is one of those cards, I had seen hundreds of times over the years and in the back of my mind I knew I'd eventually buy it.  I'm just embarrassed to admit that it took me almost forty years to do it.

1967 Topps Posters #12

There was a time (before the Hobby Boom) when late 60's and early 70's Topps insert sets were pretty affordable.  This poster insert and the game card are both part of complete sets I purchased during that time.

1968 Topps Game #8

This card is part of a thirty-three card set... in which only eleven cards allowed a player to reach base safely.  Topps honored Mays with the best card in the set.

We've reached the halfway mark... and we're entering the 70's:

1970 Kellogg's #12

This Kellogg's card is another favorite of mine.  Like many other collectors out there, I'm a big fan of the Kellogg's lenticular sets of the 70's and 80's.  The 1970 baseball design is my favorite.

Up next is another collectible that doesn't fall into the baseball card category:

1971 Mattel Instant Replay #NNO

Eighteen years before Topps and LJN teamed up to release their Topps Talk Player and cards, Mattel did something similar with their Instant Replay player and records.  Unfortunately, I don't have own the player and I didn't find a recording of the Mays on YouTube.  However, there are several examples of other sports on there.

1972 Kellogg's #54 (RBI 1855)
1972 Kellogg's #54 (RBI 1856)

Your eyes aren't deceiving you.  I'm showing off two copies of Willie's 1972 Kellogg's card.  The one on the left is considered the "error" card with his incorrect MLB career RBI totals with the one on the right being the "corrected" version.

This set is littered with error/corrected versions.  Based on the PSA Pop Report, the corrected cards are slightly more common.

Next up is probably the most common card in this post:

1982 Topps Kmart #8

I'm pretty sure this is the first Willie Mays baseball card I ever owned.  Well... not this exact copy... but one just like it.

Back in the 80's the Kmart my parents shopped at had hundreds of these box sets that sat there on the display for what seemed like years.  At the time, I wasn't a fan of anything Kmart related... including this set.  But over the years, I've grown to appreciate this set.

1987 Topps Traded Bronze Premiums #5

This metal medallion replica of Willie's 1953 Topps card was once awarded to a dealer who purchased a case of the 1987 Topps Traded sets.  I included it in this post, because it's an oddball issue you don't see around every day.  If you're interested in seeing the other Topps Traded Bronze Premiums that Topps produced, click here.

1989 Kenner SLU Baseball Greats #NNO

While digging through scans and binders looking for items for this post, I picked this card because it has his nickname on the front of the card.  I also liked how Kenner listed his full MLB career stats on the back.

1995 Topps Legends of the 60's Medallions #1

Here's another Mays medallion.  Like the Topps Traded Bronze Premiums, this is one of those oddball issues that fly under the radar of many collectors.  However this medallion is much bigger and heavier.  

I've written about this set before, but in short... there were twelve medallions produced by Topps that were released on a monthly basis to Stadium Club members for $39.95 each.

1995 Upper Deck Autograph #AC2

I flippin' love this card!  If I ever made a Top 10 list of my autographed baseball cards, I'm pretty sure this would be on it.

2003 Topps Gallery HOF Currency Connection #CC-WM

I reserved a spot for this "coin" card, because like a few other cards in this post... it's different.

The encapsulated wheat penny was produced in 1958... the same year the Giants moved to San Francisco.

last two items are signed memorabilia that are undated:

Say Hey Authenticated

I've got a pair of signed Mays photos depicting "The Catch".  One is 8x10 and the other is a 16x20.  Both are certified by Say Hey Authenticated which was his company.  I've heard mixed reviews on whether or not these signatures are legit.

Rumor has it that some unscrupulous people forged the Say Hey Authenticated holograms and used them on photos with fake signatures.  Since I wasn't there to witness him signing either of the photos, I guess I'll never know.

PSA/DNA Authenticated

Unfortunately, I didn't witness him signing this baseball either.  I bought this ball at the Branham Flea Market back in 2015 for $8 and had my buddy submit it to PSA to see if it was legit.  It passed, but with any third party authenticators... who knows if it's actually legit.  

Well there you go... twenty-four Mays collectibles in honor of #24.  Rest in peace Mr. Mays.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


Shlabotnik Report said...

That's a damned impressive Mays collection, especially for someone who isn't a Giants fan. I'm not sure I have 24 Mays collectibles all told, even if you included stuff like K-Mart cards and Pacific Legends

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Great tribute and amazing cards you have.

Chris said...

Holy cow that's quite a collection! The autographed baseball for $8 was a heck of a find, and that au'd photo of The Catch is incredible! I'm 100% with you on getting vintage singles slabbed, even though there are occasional reports of shady dealings by the grading companies, it's the best peace of mind available. Love that Red Heart, Kellogg's, and '64 Topps Giant. I still have to get the '56 Mays for my set. Gonna be a lot pricier now, but I don't regret waiting because I spent my Mays money on a 1968 Topps PSA 8 as a nod to the first vintage HOfer card I ever owned. Back then it was only a 20 year old card, lol.

John Sharp said...

I have exactly one Willie Mays card, from Project 100.

Good Job! 👍

Matt said...

Impressive collection!

Jamie Meyers said...

I love that card with the coin. Ironically, 3 years earlier (1955) was the last time the San Francisco mint issued coins for general circulation until starting back up again about 15 years later.

Mays was before my time and was a difficult and expensive autograph by the time I started collecting autos so I don't have as much of an affinity for him as I might have but I can certainly appreciate his place in the game and admire his achievements. Definitely enjoyed looking at your great cards!

Jon said...

I've always thought it was neat that a collector way back when (probably pre-internet) was able to figure out that Willie was in the background of Hank's '56.

Matt said...

What a great collection of cards and memorabilia! Thanks for sharing!

Fuji said...

shlabotnik report - what i showed off was basically the bulk of my mays collection. i have a handful of inserts in the mays section of my hall of fame binder, but that's about it

johnnys trading spot - nothing compared to your collection. the stuff you have is insane.

chris - i don't think i'd ever be able to build a top 10 or top 25 list of great flea market purchases, but i'm guessing the mays ball would be close to the top. and wowza. very jealous of that 68t psa 8 mays

john sharp - i live in the bay area... so i'm exposed to mays stuff a lot

matt - thanks

jamie meyers - thanks for the information on the coin. i inherited my father's coin collection, but honestly have no idea what is worth anything. but i love the fact that he was interested in collecting something

jon - it's is amazing that someone solved that mystery. i'm sure there is a photo of mays they matched it up with.

matt - thanks. there's at least one more mays i'd like to track downat some point.

GTT said...

Wow - amazing Mays collection! Very sorry that he passed.

The Jay Publishing cards and those of their ilk aren't super rare, but they're so cheap just because they're not mainstream and are close to the edge of what can be considered a card.

carlsonjok said...

I don't know why but I always think of you as a modern card collector. So, I feel compelled to say that you have a fine set of vintage cards right there.

Jim from Downingtown said...


I have most of Willie's cards and inserts from 1965-72, but here is my best piece of Mays memorabilia:


Sean said...

That is a really great Mays collection! 8 bucks for a signed ball was an amazing score!

Steve at 1975BaseballCards.com said...

My Mays collection is maybe two cards, but I like them. One's the Kmart - I bought an unopened box and that was a fun thing to open (maybe close to 10 years ago now, long time after the 80's).

Have a Happy 4th!

Fuji said...

gtt - years ago, there was an online store that sold packs of the jay publishing photos. i bought a few, but wish i had bought more. they're an affordable way to add some big names to your collection without breaking the bank

jim from downingtown - first up... had no idea you had a blog. i'll add you to my reading list today. secondly, that model is awesome!

sean - yeah... one of my coolest flea market finds over the years

steve at 1975baseballcards.com - i don't have my cards from the set i owned back in the 80's, but i think i bought another one years ago. maybe one of these days i'll dig it out and write a post on it