Our 2012 Topps Willie Mays Treasure
The other day, after donating a pint of blood at the Irwin Center, one of their volunteers took a picture of me holding the newest member of my pantheon of baseball card treasures. Shown in greater detail below, this 2012 Topps Willie Mays Retired Rings card was in one of the six jumbo packs I purchased on Super Bowl Sunday. Only 736 of these beautiful Mays cards were released, so I consider myself very lucky to have one.
Willie Mays was the best, all around baseball player I ever saw. Some older folks may say for them it was Joe DiMaggio, while some younger ones may select Barry Bonds. How about you, Troy? Who’s your man? For me, at the tender age of sixty (how did that happen?), it’s Willie Mays. Period. In my time, no player comes close to him for five-tool, all round excellence.
Here’s my favorite off-field memory of him. In 1989, my sister Nancy, well-known in this blog for her love of baseball “outfits,” her six-year old son Matt and I were on a San Francisco to New York City flight, bound for a long weekend at the family home, where the triumphant event would be Dad’s 70th Birthday party. We were all strapped into our seats when who should walk past us but Willie Mays and Reggie Jackson. I instantly turned to my young nephew, who had already discovered the San Francisco Giants, and told him, motioning to the Say Hey kid, “that man is the best baseball player I ever saw.”
The two Hall of Famers sat in the last row. After a short time, a brave woman made her way to the back of the plane, tentatively approached them and emerged several minutes later with two autographs. Several others followed. At some point Nancy decided to join the queue, which ultimately got so long I was surprised the plane kept its balance, with all that weight shifted towards its tail section. I’m sure she thoughtfully considered what she was going to ask the players to sign, which explains how Dad’s birthday card was signed by Nancy, Matt, Michael, Willie Mays and Reggie Jackson that year.
When the plane landed and the passengers disembarked, we quickly told him about the special passengers. When Mays exited the tunnel and stepped into the terminal, Dad’s reaction was instantaneous. The old New York Giants fan in him took over, resulting in a spirited “SAY HEY” shouted at the top of his lungs.
I see a lot of people are already putting their copies of this card up for sale on Ebay. Not me. This card is for Dad and me. Since Dad is no longer around, I’ll have to enjoy it enough for the both of us. I think I’m up to that. Say Hey, everybody!
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