Sunday, March 29, 2009

#250 Willie Mays

#250 Willie Mays
I took a mini-hiatus at the end of this week, partially due to a faulty power cord on my laptop and a busier schedule at work. But I think you'll agree that this card was worth the wait. "The Say Hey Kid" looks like a stern veteran, no traces of the usual exuberance. But he was fourteen years into his remarkable 22-year career, and the important thing is that he looms large in the framework of the card, leaving precious little room for a fairly unremarkable background. This card is all about Willie.

Fun facts about Willie Mays:

-Played three seasons with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League before beginning his major league career.

-Went 0-for his first dozen at bats with the Giants before homering off of Warren Spahn, the first of his personal-best 13 moon shots against the Braves' ace. Spahn later quipped, "I'll never forgive myself. We might have gotten rid of Willie forever if I'd only struck him out."

-Two words: The Catch.

-A quick and dirty list of his major accomplishments: 1951 NL Rookie of the Year, 20-time All-Star (1954-1973), two-time NL MVP (1954, 1965), two-time All-Star MVP (1963, 1968), 12-time Gold Glove winner (1957-1968).

-Hit a record 22 extra-inning home runs. He is believed to be the only player in major league history to hit a home run in each inning from the first through the sixteenth.

-Holds the major league record for consecutive seasons with 150 or more games played (thirteen seasons, 1954-1966); Cal Ripken, Jr. missed out on this record as a result of the strike-shortened 1994 and 1995 campaigns.

-Despite hitting 660 home runs in his career, fourth-best all-time, he's not even the leading home-run hitter from his home state of Alabama. That honor goes to Hank Aaron, whose 755 longballs are second all-time.

-Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979; despite being widely considered one of the best players in history, he was left off of 23 ballots. Stay classy, BBWAA.

-The Giants retired his #24, and their ballpark (AT&T Park) is located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. A statue in his likeness is located in front of the main entrance.

-He is the godfather of former teammate Bobby Bonds' son, Barry. His godson surpassed his home run total in 2004 on his way to a record-breaking 762 round-trippers. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
#250 Willie Mays (back)

6 comments:

  1. When I think of Willie Mays on a baseball card, this is the card I picture. I'm not sure why that is.

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  2. I feel the same way as night owl. Probably because it was the first Mays card I ever "saw" --- it was on the 1965 MVP card from 1975.

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  3. That's funny, this is my 'default' Mays card as well. I saw a lot of Willie back in the day as my best friend growing up was a big fan of the Giants and Willie and we made it out to Shea for most of the games they played there.

    When it comes to over all baseball talent I don't think I've ever seen his equal. Had Mantle stayed healthy he would have been close.

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  4. It's interesting to hear that so many people identify Willie with this one card! Matt, I've also got the 1975 MVPs card with Willie and Zoilo Versalles.

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  5. i picture this one, too. but it's because the same photo was used for the 68 set. i guess topps didn't think a player like willie mays didn't deserve a new photo.

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  6. gcrl - That's what happens when you've got a monopoly...you get lazy. Damn Uncle Pennybags McTopps... ;)

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