Friday, December 11, 2020

Five of the Say Hey Kid

Willie Mays was probably my first favorite ballplayer, and he still ranks right up near the top. I was a big reader as a kid, and I remember wanting to impress my mom by bringing home a book from the adult section of the library, rather than the kiddie section.  A Willie Mays biography was what I ended up with, and I really loved it.  I think I was 7.  

It was my first intro to the struggles of race in our country.  I was pretty sheltered, I guess. There wasn't much on race in this particular book, but enough for me to get the general idea.

I loved the epic rookie year which culminated with the 'Shot heard round the world'. Who would have thought that Willie Mays would have had such a rough start to his career?

I read about 'The Catch', long before I ever saw a replay of it.  The book extolled its virtues so extravagantly, that when I finally did see the replay, I was almost disappointed!

I remember being confused about what 'Say Hey' was supposed to mean.  If you don't know about it, check out this song from way back in the day.  It was kind of Willie's catch phrase.

I was familiar with the old Giants players far more than any other players from the 50s and 60s because of that book.

Before long, I read a lot more baseball biographies, and my worldview got bigger, but Willie is where it all started, and I will always have a soft spot for him.  Willie is really getting up there in age. 90 years young next May.  Every time I hear of another old ballplayer passing away, I think, at least we still have Willie and Hank.  Those will be sad days when they come.  But on a happier note...

Here are my five favorite Willie Mays cards in my collection!

2005 Donruss Studio #SP-24 - Continuing the theme (rut?) I have gotten into, this is my lowest numbered Mays, /30!  These 'Studio Portraits' cards are kind of dull, but in some ways the simplicity appeals to me.

The subset us weird, with versions of each card numbered out of  5,10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60.  Not the most original way to do things, but just like Donruss, right?  It gets even worse, there are variations at each serial numbered point.  It got so weird that I just stopped researching!

1968 Topps - Game #8 - A very cool card, it seems like I just read about somebody looking for one of these, but can't remember who it was.  Not that I'm looking to trade it, but I'd trade any card if the price was right!

Willie is the only 'Home Run' in this Topps Game insert set.  Good pick Topps!

1961 Topps #150 - Looks like Willie wasn't having the greatest day here.  But he does look strong.  61 was a simple, clean design from Topps.  Needs more action shots though!  This one definitely isn't mint, but it could be worse.  As you will see next!

1966 Topps #1 - Mays is having a much better day in this shot!  This is the picture of Willie that I see in my head when I hear the words "Say Hey!"  The card is pretty beat, but I still love it.  Can't afford a mint one anyway.  Probably a spring training shot from the looks of it.

1964 Topps #150 - My favorite Mays.  As I've said numerous times, I have an affection for the 64 Topps set.  I like to think that Willie is saying something like "What's that tiny dude doing back there?  Send him to the Mets!" in this photo.  Again, not great condition, but I am very happy to have it!

Obviously, there are cooler cards of Mays than these five, but they are the best I have in my meager collection!  What's your favorite Mays card of all time?


  1. The fact that Willie Mays could make a card as bland as that '61 Topps look great speaks to how much of a legend he is. The '66 Topps is probably my favorite, and I've also had a weird affinity for his '73 Topps finale as a Met.

  2. None of Mays' cards really stand out to me. They're all just OK.

    I used to own the '57 Mays but traded it away for Dodgers of the same era. Got to get those Giants out of the house.

  3. I remember being disappointed with "The Catch" when I finally saw it too, but as I got older, I realized things change, games change, and highlights are often less so when shown out of context, or their era if you will.

  4. You have a fantastic Mays collection. I really love the 1968 Topps Game card... since he was honored with being the Home Run card. Off the top of my head I'll go with my 1956 Topps as my favorite.

  5. Good stuff. That '66 Topps is a great looking card.

  6. The 66 mays is my favorite of his. I don't own too many playing days mays cards outside of complete sets, but I do own that one.