Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Remembering Willie Mays

Like many collectors, I took a moment to appreciate Willie Mays in the wake of his passing by looking through my cards of his.

I watched the Willie Mays doc on HBO a while ago and really enjoyed it. He's got solid representation in my collection, but Mays is a bittersweet figure in my personal hobby history, with a couple questionable decisions on my part regarding good cards of his that I parted with.

About 10 years ago, I bought a Mays 2003 Retired refractor auto for a whopping $300. A guy who read my blog post about it offered me double for it. I couldn't resist that ROI and agreed to part with it, though I've since come to regret the decision in hindsight, still chugging away on a run of Retired refractors as perhaps my #1 collecting goal. With part of the proceeds from the sale, I picked up a replacement Mays auto (more modestly priced at $160 shipped) for another ambitious collecting project of mine: the "Archives Reserve Master Set" I've been slowly building over the years..

It's a nice consolation prize, for sure-- they don't sell for anywhere near $160 anymore!-- though I still miss the '03 Retired refractor. I'm still in touch with the buyer, Dan, and we've done more swaps since. Last time I checked in with him, he was 8 cards away from his goal of completing the 2003 Retired refractor autos. (I'm going for all 3 Retired releases, with 2004 my priority, but Dan doesn't mess much with '04 or '05, instead laser focused on 2003.)

But my initial $300 purchase had a nice bonus included in the lot, and I still own that one:

I call these "charcoal" parallels of 2003 Retired, though officially they are called black borders (despite clearly being speckled dark gray). It's a nice looking card, even if not refractorized. 

It's got the "ebay 1/1" distinction of being jersey number 24 out of 99. You get a nice back of complete career stats, with the black and red text easy to read against a white background, which is appreciated even more in these days of Topps making Archives backs harder to read than the originals they mimic. If you want to check for typos-- I've noticed Retired cards often have uncorrected errors in the stats-- here's his baseball-ref page.

The other bonehead move I made with Willie Mays cards is a few years back when I forgot I had bought his 1957 Topps card for my setbuild and then bought another one. Hey, I was drinking too much in those days. I ended up trading the extra to blogger bud The Diamond King for a Cody Bellinger SSP photo variation RC. Of course, like clockwork, Cody then instantly fell off from the MVP numbers he had been consistently putting up to start his career. LOL. At least he's bounced back somewhat now. Anyways, the card pictured above is the one I still have in my set. Man, I should really prioritize the last 79 cards I need to finally complete a basic set 1957 Topps to hang my hat on.

Ten years ago I was in Hawaii getting hitched. Yep, Willie Mays died on my 10th wedding anniversary. I'm weirdly honored to share a special day with the legendary Willie Mays. It's sad he passed, but he made it to the impressive age of 93. An incredible life to be celebrated for years and years.


  1. Happy Anniversary! (and RIP Mr Mays!)

  2. A. 93 years is indeed impressive. May he rest in peace.

    B. Hope you're able to one day reacquire that 2003 Retired Refractor autograph.

    C. Happy anniversary to you and your wife.

  3. I still treasure the Mays you traded me.... But sorry about Bellinger!

  4. Happy anniversary! Sorry about the 2003
    Retired Auto. Hope it finds a way into your collection one day.

  5. Happy belated anniversary, Gavin!