#261 Willie Mays
Progress: 1st of this card
311 of 407 76.2% complete
How acquired: Purchased on eBay
I used to buy Beckett Monthly in the 1980's. Not every month, but a couple times a year depending who was on the cover and whether or not my brother or one of the other kids on the street had already purchased the latest issue. One of the things we would do was highlight the cards we had. We would also highlight the cards we wanted to one day have. We'd sit around trading '86 Fleer and the like, and debate the greatest cards of all-time and the ones we coveted most. This 1952 Willie Mays was about as big as I could dream. The ridiculously unobtainable one that I never really expected to own a copy of. Yet here it sits in my hand. It felt so surreal at first that I actually re-submitted it to PSA for a second authentication, I just couldn't believe I actually owned a copy.
Willie was my father's favorite player growing up. When he told my brother and I of Willie's greatness, it wasn't presented in a subjective manner. Mays was the greatest of all-time, the greatest there had ever been, and no one would ever be greater. Who was I to argue? I just looked at the handful of Mays cards that had survived in my father's collection with awe and felt lucky to have them under my roof. A '61 Topps being the oldest of the bunch.
Another surreal aspect of this card, is what it represents for purposes of my 1952 Topps collection. This Mays completes the run of cards #1-310. When I started this blog, I didn't think I'd ever come anywhere close to that. I'm well aware that there are another 97 cards in the set, but I'm not going to focus on them. I feel accomplished enough with the first five series in the books.
I purchased Mays back in 2017 and am just posting it now. You may have noticed the images above are little different from how they normally are on this blog. It's because that Mays sits inside a PSA cage. When I bought it, it was the most I had ever spent on a card. I had gone so far to create an excel spreadsheet and had been tracking eBay sales of it for about six months before bidding on this one. Despite it's large price (about a car payment), based on my numbers I felt like I had picked it up for a very good price. I don't usually spend more than $20 to $50 on a card, and even that is extremely rare. I hate PSA slabs, or any slab, I think they're a scam. But for resale purposes, there is no denying most buyers like them. So I've debated for the last four years as to whether or not I should crack this Mays out of it's plastic tomb. Over time, I've watched the price explode. It's regularly selling for 10x what I paid.
One day, my card collection will get passed down and in all likelihood sold. That's fine. My daughter doesn't need to share my enthusiasm for this hobby and there is no reason my cards should take up space as unwanted relics in someone else's closet. When that day comes, I hope to make it as easy as possible for her to cash in what I have. So this Mays is going to stay slabbed. My apologies to Willie, this card deserves to breath free. Hopefully it's next owner will be braver than I am.
Stats: 22 Seasons, 2x NL MVP, 20x All-Star, 12x Gold Glover, Rookie of the Year, 660 Home Runs, 3,187 hits, .302 career avg.