Willie Mays was an outstanding baseball player. Throughout his career, he showed more than his fair share of determination. He started out playing for the Negro League in 1948 and played until 1950. In 1951, he started playing for the New York/San Francisco Giants. Except for a hiatus taken during 1953, he played for them until 1972 when he played for the New York Mets. Mays retired the following year, in 1973. During his career, he played center field, going to the World Series with the Giants in 1954. He enjoyed a .302 batting average and had more than 660 home runs. He was also responsible for 3,283 hits and 1,903 RBIs. Mays was an All-Star 24 times and received the Golden Glove Award 12 times. He was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1979. All these years later, he's still very popular with collectors, something that's reflected in the prices of the top five most expensive Willie Mays baseball cards ever sold.
5. 1954 Bowman #89 Willie Mays PSA 8 ($15,980)
It might seem rather odd that this particular card shows up at the bottom of this list, considering the fact that 1954 was also the year that Willie Mays and his team won the World Series. As a matter of fact, it was actually Mays himself who made the winning catch, a very difficult catch by all accounts. Experts recall him being forced to reach over his shoulder in order to catch the ball, something that very few players could have accomplished successfully. Despite that fact, this is not the most highly sought-after trading card featuring Mays. It's definitely worth enough to make the list, as one of these cards that was in good condition recently sold for just under $16,000. That's a decent enough payday, to be sure. However, it actually pales in comparison to virtually every other card that appears on this list. As you can see, the very next one on the list sold for more than $100,000. If you think that's a lot of money, just wait until you get to number one and see how much that card is worth. Nevertheless, most people would be very happy to have a card in their collection that they could sell for more than $15,000. That's exactly what happened here and the person who sold it ended up making a decent amount of money, especially when you consider the fact that it was only one item being sold.
4. 1952 Bowman #218 Willie Mays PSA 9 ($125,000)
Who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to get their hands on one of these cards? Without a doubt, this is one of the most important cards in any Willie Mays collection. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest cards to find. This is especially true if you’re looking for one that is in mint condition. It may not be the most valuable card in the entire list, but it is a key component to any collection featuring the player. That means anyone who has one is likely willing to pay a decent price in order to get one. As you can see, the card doesn’t sell for as much as some others, but it’s still possible to make a significant amount of money from selling one.
3. 1953 Topps #244 Willie Mays PSA 9 ($132,000)
If you're lucky enough to find one of these cards in pristine condition, then it could be worth a significant amount of money. The most recent information available on any of these cards shows one showing for more than one $130,000, but it was in mint condition. There are a number of reasons that this particular card is worth a lot of money to collectors. Mays actually missed the entirety of the 1953 season because he was serving in the Korean War. Topps decided to include him in their 1953 trading cards anyway, but Bowman made the decision not to include him at all. Over the years, this has made this particular card even more popular because it's extremely difficult to find. Furthermore, collectors won't consider any Willie Mays collection complete unless one of these cards is included.
2. 1952 Topps #261 Willie Mays PSA 8 ($485,000)
When it comes to popular baseball cards, this is one that definitely finds its way to the top of the list more often than not. In this particular case, you have a card that was released in the same year as the 1952 Bowman #218, yet it's obviously worth much more. This is especially true when you consider the fact that this particular card scored 8 out of 10 on the PSA scale, yet it was worth roughly four times as much as the Bowman example that scored a 9 out of 10. Why is this one so popular? For one thing, the Topps cards tend to be more popular as a whole. However, the most important reason is likely because this was the first Topps card that ever featured Mays.
1. 1951 Bowman #305 WIllie Mays PSA 9 ($800,000)
The thing that is shocking about this card is that it's worth a decent amount of money, even when it's in relatively poor condition. The price listed is for a card that scores 9 out of 10, something that is relatively rare. The thing that might surprise you even more is that if you have a card that only manages to score a 7, which is usually considered relatively poor, you can still get as much as $45,000 for it. As a matter of fact, one of these same examples sold recently in extremely poor condition. It even had marks on and it still sold for just over $7,000. It's also worth noting that this is the only officially released rookie card featuring this particular player. That fact alone is one of the reasons that it sells for thousands of dollars, even when it's been sitting in some dusty old attic for years and the elements have gotten to it. If you have one, you might consider that fact before you simply toss it off to the side.
Written by Dana Hanson
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