Willie Mays Baseball Cards Provide Solid Bang for the Buck

Willie Mays' amazing career included 24 all-star game appearances, including being named the game’s MVP on two occasions.  His offensive firepower resulted in 660 home runs and over 1,900 runs batted in.  A star born at the Polo Grounds became an icon in San Francisco.

Because of his batting prowess, many people overlook his defensive acumen, despite the famous catch in the 1954 World Series.  During his career, Mays earned 12 Gold Glove awards.

Collectability of Willie Mays Memorabilia

Mays played at the same time as Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider, the other two New York baseball legends of the 1950s.  Comparisons between the three were taking place on front stoops all over the city as kids opened packs of Topps and Bowman cards.

His membership in the 3,000 hit and 500 home run clubs gives Mays additional collectability.

The only major drawback is in the fact that the majority of the teams that he played on were not strong World Series contenders.  Still, those who know baseball know that Mays is one of the best ever.  Many believe he's on the top of that list.

Investment Quality

Willie Mays rookie cardWillie Mays baseball cards are very popular among entry-level investors.  Most of his cards are reasonably priced and are at price points, which make them easy to add, without distorting a portfolio’s dynamics.  He actually represents a bit of a bargain, with his cards, including the 1951 Bowman rookie and 1952 Topps issue, lagging behind Mantle.

Many of his cards, graded in near mint-mint condition, can be purchased for under $1,000.

Speculative opportunities exist for lower grade, early year cards and higher grade late career cards.  Be aware that the market is currently soft for most PSA 8 and lower cards issued in the 1970s.

Top Willie Mays Cards

(click the title to see them on eBay)

1951 Bowman #305 – Willie's rookie card was issued late in the year, after he arrived from the Giants' farm club at Minneapolis.  The Mantle card is also in this series, but  Mays doesn't cost as much as The Mick, in part because there are more higher grade examples available.  Still, it's undervalued at this point, based on Mays' status as one of the most popular and talented players of all-time and the comparison with values of Mantle rookie cards.

Willie Mays 1952 Topps1952 Topps #261 – This card, while not his rookie card, fetches prices at or higher than his 1951 issue.  Grades above PSA 7 are rare and usually sell via major sports memorabilia auction houses.  Despite the stratospheric pricing at the ultra-high-grade level, lower-grade cards are more accessible.  A nicely centered 5 (or SGC 60) at around $3,500 would seem to be a solid bet.

1953 Topps #244 – This card does not get the buzz of the 1951 Bowman or 1952 Topps.  However, it is not one that should be overlooked.  As the prices for his marquee cards rise, there should be an additive effect on the value of this issue.   A near mint copy can still be had for around $7,000 and a PSA 5 for under $2,000.

1954 Topps #90 – Like the 1953 Topps card, this card also stands a reasonable chance of appreciation in the coming years.  From the year the Giants went to the World Series, the card features Mays with a huge smile along with a background action shot. It's one of his most beautiful cards. A 1954 Topps Mays in a very respectable '6' grade is readily available for under $500.

1962 Topps MANAGERS' DREAM #18 - Mickey Mantle / Willie Mays - PSA 6
1962 Topps MANAGERS' DREAM #18 - Mickey Mantle / Willie Mays - PSA 6
$105.00
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1964 Topps Coin 80 Willie Mays PSA 6 (1143)
1964 Topps Coin 80 Willie Mays PSA 6 (1143)
$105.00
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1967 Topps #200 Willie Mays PSA 5 EX ST
1967 Topps #200 Willie Mays PSA 5 EX ST
$41.00
Time Remaining: 8h 39m
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1964 Topps #150 Willie Mays PSA 5 EX
1964 Topps #150 Willie Mays PSA 5 EX
$56.00
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1971 Topps #600 Willie Mays PSA 4 VG-EX
1971 Topps #600 Willie Mays PSA 4 VG-EX
$29.00
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1952 RED MAN TOBACCO #15 WILLIE MAYS PSA 5 EXCELLENT
1952 RED MAN TOBACCO #15 WILLIE MAYS PSA 5 EXCELLENT
$695.00
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1964 Topps Baseball Card #150 WILLIE MAYS SGC 82 EXNM+ 6.5
1964 Topps Baseball Card #150 WILLIE MAYS SGC 82 EXNM+ 6.5
$125.00
Time Remaining: 10h 8m
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1961 Topps 150 Willie Mays PSA 4 (7874)
1961 Topps 150 Willie Mays PSA 4 (7874)
$44.00
Time Remaining: 11h 16m
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1971 Topps 600 Willie Mays PSA 4 (5641)
1971 Topps 600 Willie Mays PSA 4 (5641)
$44.00
Time Remaining: 11h 45m
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1969 O-Pee-Chee #190 Willie Mays PSA 6
1969 O-Pee-Chee #190 Willie Mays PSA 6
$79.99
Time Remaining: 13h 3m
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1961 Topps #150 Willie Mays PSA 8 - Beautiful Card!
1961 Topps #150 Willie Mays PSA 8 - Beautiful Card!
$315.00
Time Remaining: 13h 7m
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1961 Topps #150 Willie Mays PSA 7 Giants
1961 Topps #150 Willie Mays PSA 7 Giants
$115.00
Time Remaining: 13h 14m
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