Willie's career in Major League Baseball begins in 1951 after four years in the Negro Leagues and extends up to 1973 . He is at 20 in 1951 the Rookie of the Year in the National League. More passionate about the game than by his teammates and competitors, he pretended not reminding their names and hailed everybody by the formula 'Say Hey Man'. He got as early as 1951 the nickname Say Hey Kid that will never leave him.
1952 is the year of the great modernization of the Topps cards. Willie Mays is honored for his rookie year at number 261. Collectors now consider that cards in perfect condition are very rare throughout the series although only the highest numbers including Mickey Mantle's 311 have been the subject to a mass destruction due to an editing delay.
A 1952-261 card graded Mint 9 by PSA was sold for $ 480K including premium by Heritage in May 2016. Another one in same condition is offered by the same auction house on August 27 in Dallas, lot 80010. Its guide value at $ 400K is in line with the above result. Only one 1952-261 was graded higher.
Topps changes every year the player's picture on the front and updates the summary of his career on the back. Willie is not forgotten in 1953 while his professional career is interrupted by military service. The reverse of the card includes also a Quiz unrelated to Willie : "Which player was tagged with the nickname The Iron Horse ?". The answer which you certainly know is to read by turning the card upside down.
Only one copy of Willie's 1953-244 card has ever been graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. This perfect card of an outstanding young player is at lot 80012 in the same sale as above with a guide value of $ 800K.
1952 SOLD for $ 380K including premium
1953 (illustrated below) : unsold