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)


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

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

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