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Willie Mays: 10 Awesome Cards

June 18, 2024 Update: MLB has announced that all-time great and Hall of Famer Willie Mays has passed away at age 93. Mays amazing career and impressive baseball legacy will long be remembered by fans and collectors. Cardlines would like to celebrate the career and cards of the one and only Willie Mays.

The word icon sometimes gets overused in the world of sports. But in some cases, it’s the only appropriate way to represent certain players. Willie Mays is one of those players.

As a consensus top-5 all-time great and long-time oldest living Hall of Famer, Mays is a baseball icon. His cards are some of the most popular and valuable in the hobby and for good reason. There are some real gems. 

But what are some of Willie Mays’ best baseball cards? And what about the Willie Mays rookie card? 

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Who is Willie Mays?

Willie Mays, quite simply, was one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game. He is the very definition of a “five-tool player”. He also racked up the hardware and accolades, all well-earned. He was an MVP two times. An All-Star 24 times, tied for the most ever. Won Rookie of the Year. Won a batting title. 

With the bat, his 660 career home runs is the 6th most ever. For his career, he hit 301/.384/.557, good for an OPS of .940 and OPS+ of 155. Let those numbers sink in for a minute.

Across 3,005 career games spread over 23 seasons, Mays put up career rate stats that represent an MVP season. He’s 7th all-time in runs scored, and 12th all-time in RBI.

Speed? He stole 339 bases, leading his league four times. He also led his league in triples three times. 

Defense? Mays played more games in center field than any other player in history and won 12 Gold Glove Awards. Oh, and he made a play in the 1954 World Series that is still referred to simply as “The Catch”. 

Add it all up, and he was worth a staggering 156.1 WAR, the third-highest total ever accumulated. He did all this despite missing roughly a year and a half of games early in his career while serving in the military during the Korean War. 

Suffice it to say, by any measure, Willie Mays was one of the most iconic, talented, and accomplished players in history. The above statistics, while impressive, don’t begin to do the career of Willie Mays justice.

It’s highly recommended that you check out some of the dozens of books written about Mays. 

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Willie Mays baseball cards

According to the Trading Card Database (TCBD.com), Willie Mays has appeared on 6,340 cards since his first cardboard appearance in 1951. These include expensive vintage rarities that are quite pricy, especially in good shape.

It also contains a lot of modern and ultra-modern cards that range from the very inexpensive and accessible to the rarer parallels that offer up some rarity and value. 

With the Willie Mays card catalog being quite robust, this won’t be an exhaustive list by any means. But it’s fun to explore the many options for a top 10 list.

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The Willie Mays rookie card: 1951 Bowman

While a certain iconic card gets a lot of attention, just as the case is with Mickey Mantle, the 1951 Bowman is THE Willie Mays rookie card.

With a PSA population of just over 2,200, even in a PSA 1 slab, this one sells strongly for $3,000-5,000.

Higher grades? That’s the area of auction houses and some impressively high prices. PSA 5s have been selling in the $14,000-16,000 range, with PSA 7s selling for around $50K. 

There are no PSA 10s, and only eight copies of these cards in PSA 9 slabs. There have been no sales of a 9 since 2009. 

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2nd Year Bowman: 1952 Bowman

If a high-dollar, classic vintage card can be called “overlooked”, the 1952 Bowman Mays may qualify. It’s not his 1951 rookie card. It’s not the popular and iconic 1952 Topps. In a PSA 1 slab, the card sells for roughly half (or slightly less) than a 1952 Topps card in the same condition, or roughly a third of the price of a 1951 Bowman in PSA 1. 

Again, there are no PSA 10s and only 6 PSA 9s. The last PSA 9 copy that sold was in a Heritage Auction in early 2022, when it went for a whopping $444,000.

So, high-graded examples still go for a mint, but not really in the stratosphere of the 1952 Topps. 

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1952 bowman willie mays

The Iconic Classic: 1952 Topps

What can be more iconic than one of the greatest players of all time in one of the most enduringly popular card sets of all time? This gorgeous portrait of a young Mays rivals only the Mantle card in this set in terms of popularity and value.

Even in a PSA 1 slab, these sell for $2,000-2,500. In higher grades, the prices go up accordingly. Recent PSA 7 sales have been in the range of $35,000-40,000. Meanwhile, PSA has only graded nine PSA 9s and ONE PSA 10 copy of this card. 

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1952 topps willie mays

1954 Topps

While the bright yellow background may be a bit jarring to some, the 1954 Topps Willie Mays is another vintage classic. The design features a portrait and a small “action shot” on the front. PSA 6s have been selling of late for between $1,600-1,700. 

Again, we see no PSA 10s here, but there are 13 PSA 9 slabs out there, the last of which sold for around $50,000. 

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1956 Topps

This horizontal gem features a portrait of a smiling Mays with an action shot in the back of him sliding into home plate. 1956 Topps is one of my favorite Topps designs of the 1950s, or all time, really.

They are slightly larger than “standard” cards and the horizontal layout leverages that space. It’s a great-looking card that isn’t very expensive, especially in lower grades. 

In a PSA 6 slab, these have sold for between $725 and $1,200 of late. Once again, there are no PSA 10s of this card, with 33 existing in PSA 9 slabs. The last few sales for PSA 9s, which were back in 2022, were around $35,000-40,000. 

The rarer white-back variation is also worthy of chasing. 

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1960 Topps

Another classic horizontal layout vintage Mays card. As we get into the 1960s and beyond, the cards become more affordable, but these are still strong sellers. In a PSA 6 slab, these sell for between $400-450. 

This is the first card on our list where PSA has slabbed a PSA 10, in this case, there are three PSA 10s. There are also 25 PSA 9s in existence. 9s aren’t available for sale often, but the last one sold for close to $20,000. 

Mays also appears on cards #7 (Master and Mentor) and #564 (All-Star) cards in the 1960 Topps set. 

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1965 Topps

The 1965 Topps card is, in my humble opinion, the best Topps design of the 1960s. Compared to the 1950s cards on the list, these are a bit easier to find in solid condition.

A PSA 7 copy will only cost you around $400-450. Not a bad deal at all for a classic vintage card from what may have been Mays’s best offensive season.

In 1965, Mays hit 52 home runs and put up a line of .317/.398/.645 for an OPS of 1.043 and 185 OPS+. He led the league in HR, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and TB on his way to an MVP season. He added an All-Star selection and a Gold Glove to boot. That was a 9.5 WAR season for Mays. 

PSA has graded two of these in PSA 10 condition. There are 70 PSA 9s out there. PSA 9s have sold for around $5,000 recently.

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1967 Topps

1967 Topps may not be the most popular design of the 1960s, but I enjoy the clean, simple design. Mays was in his age 36 season in 1967, but still was both an All-Star and won a Gold Glove award. 

In a PSA 7 slab, these will set you back in the neighborhood of $400-600 on average. PSA has not graded any copy of the 1967 Topps Mays in a PSA 10 slab. There are however 117 PSA 9s. The most recent sale for a 9 was at around $3,500. 

Here at Cardlines, we love vintage Topps League Leader cards, and so should you. 1967 Topps has a great example in card #244, NL Home Run Leaders, which features Mays, along with fellow Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, and future (someday) Hall of Famer Dick Allen.

While not a leader card, another multi-player card worth owning is #423. The card, called “Fence Busters,” features Mays with fellow Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. 

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1973 Topps 

The 1973 Topps Willie Mays is the final card of his active playing career. It also is the first card of his career to show him on any team other than the Giants (first in New York, and later San Francisco), seeing a 42-year-old Mays in Mets blue. 

In a PSA 8 slab, these fetch around $400-475. PSA has slabbed 3 PSA 10 copies of the 1973 Topps Mays. In terms of PSA 9s, there are 150 out there.

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1973 topps willie mays

2012 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs

As you can imagine, any Willie Mays-certified autograph is a valuable and popular item for many collectors. The 2012 Topps Heritage Real One autograph is no exception.

With a low PSA population, this one is a tough find, a PSA 10 example recently sold for around $1,500. 

The fact that the card pays homage to the classic 1963 Topps is a big plus in my book. It also gives me the chance to mention that while the 1963 Topps Mays, and many other vintage Mays cards, didn’t make our list today, they’re still amazing cards.

Going beyond the standard Topps and Bowman offerings, there are plenty of rare regional and oddball offers as well. It’s enough to keep you chasing Mays cards for many years. 

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1951 Bowman Willie Mays #3052,216PSA 1 = 178PSA 1 = $3,000-5,000
1952 Bowman Willie Mays #2181,827PSA 4 = 298PSA 4 = $1,750-$3,400
1952 Topps Willie Mays #2612,814PSA 1 = 307PSA 1 = $2,000-2,500
1954 Topps Willie Mays #904,229PSA 6 = 568PSA 6 = $1,600-1,700
1956 Topps Willie Mays #130 Gray5,667PSA 6 = 936PSA 6 = $725-1,200
1960 Topps Willie Mays #2005,997PSA 6 = 1,027PSA 6 = $400-450
1965 Topps Willie Mays #2504,048PSA 7 = 704PSA 7 = $525-625
1967 Topps Willie Mays #2004,634PSA 7 = 731PSA 7 = $400-600
1973 Topps Willie Mays #3053,681PSA 8 = 819PSA 8 = $400-$475
2012 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs Willie Mays8PSA 10 = 3PSA 10 = $1,500

Willie Mays Vintage League Leader Cards

Here at Cardlines, we love vintage Topps league leader cards, and think you should too

As you can imagine, with the number of times he led the league in a myriad of categories, Mays appeared on a number of vintage league leader cards. Here are five of our favorites. 

Topps League Leader cards debuted in 1961 Topps, and Mays makes an appearance on card #41, NL Batting Leaders. While Mays shares the card with another iconic Hall of Famer in Roberto Clemente, the card also features a few lesser-known player in Dick Groat and Norm Larker.

In 1962, Mays is featured on card #54, NL Home Run Leaders. This one pairs Mays with fellow Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Orlando Cepeda. The card represents 1,625 career home runs, but no necks. Ah, those crazy 1962 Topps “floating head” leader cards! 

1963 Topps NL Home Run Leaders #3 is the card for you if you like Hall of Famers. The card features a staggering FIVE Hall of Fame sluggers. Joining Mays are Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, and Orlando Cabrera. And again, floating heads! 

While 1964 Topps NL Home Run Leaders #9 features “only” four Hall of Famers, it’s still just an awesome card. Joining Mays are Aaron, Cepeda, and Willie McCovey. 

For 1965, Mays appeared on not one but two Topps Leader cards. We’ll mix things up and feature card #6, NL RBI Leaders. The card pairs Mays with fellow Hall of Famer Ron Santo and long-time star Ken Boyer. 

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1961 Topps NL Batting Leaders #412,308PSA 7 = 538PSA 7 = $60-85
1962 Topps NL HR Leaders #541,137PSA 7 = 297PSA 7 = $60-125
1963 Topps NL HR Leaders #31,308PSA 7 = 241PSA 7 = $175-200
1964 Topps NL HR Leaders #91,563PSA 7 = 366PSA 7 = $140-200
1965 Topps NL RBI Leaders #61,191PSA 7 = 282PSA 7 = $45-65

Final thoughts on 10 Awesome Willie Mays baseball cards

Willie Mays appears on some of the most iconic and valuable cards in the history of the hobby.

Whether you’re a collector of high-grade vintage, someone who enjoys low-grade but affordable gems of the past, or an ultra-modern collector, there’s room in your collection for some Willie Mays cards. 

What’s your favorite Willie Mays card? Let us know at card_lines on Twitter.

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More Cardlines top baseball card rookie coverage

Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.

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