Top 10 Willie Mays Baseball Cards

Top 10 Willie Mays Baseball Cards

Willie Mays remains one of baseball's most beloved legends. Not surprisingly, Willie Mays cards continue to sell strong, even among collectors who may not have had a chance to see him play. From early vintage cards to high-end modern hits, Mays is one of the hobby's top-tier stars that can anchor a release.

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When it comes all-around players, one could make a strong case for Mays as being the best. He could hit for power, average, drive in runs and make spectacular plays. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Mays finished his career with 660 home runs, placing him in the top-five all-time.

Willie Mays cards continue to command a premium, even among top-tier retired superstars. Even into his 80s, Mays continues to appear in new sets. Willie Mays autographs are often a focal point in Topps sets.

Here's a list of ten classic Willie Mays cards. Although value comes into play, that's not the sole criteria. These cards have greater significance beyond merely the prices they fetch. For those looking to build a Mays collection, any of these could be collection cornerstones.

Top 10 Willie Mays Baseball Cards

10. 1959 Topps Willie Mays #464 Baseball Thrills - Mays' Catch Makes Series History

It's not one the most valuable Willie Mays cards, but the 1959 Topps "Baseball Thrills" card captures one of the most memorable plays in the game's history. It uses a storyboard-esque trio of panels to recreate the play known simply as "The Catch." The fantastic over-the-shoulder grab came late in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, preserving a tie that Mays' Giants went on to win.

1959 Topps Willie Mays 464 260x184 Image

9. 1995 Upper Deck Autograph Willie Mays #AC2

The 1995 Upper Deck Willie Mays Autograph isn't the most valuable signature card of the Hall of Famer, but it is the first that was available in packs (sort of). Part of a redemption program in 1995 Upper Deck Series 2 packs, the card is actually quite a bargain. The design resembles the 1995 Upper Deck base set. Cards come with a security hologram on the back.

1995 Upper Deck Autographs Willie Mays 217x300 Image

8. 1999 SPx A Piece of History 500 Club Game-Used Bat

Upper Deck's multi-year, multi-brand A Piece of History 500 Club set is one of the greatest and most loved insert sets of all-time. Even at a time when game-used cards aren't as big a thrill as they once were, 500 Club cards continue to see high prices whenever they're offered. The Mays card was found in 1999 SPx. An estimated 350 copies of the card exist. Another 24 also come with an autograph.

1999 SPx Piece of History 500 Club Willie Mays GU Bat 260x184 Image

7. 1952 Berk Ross Willie Mays #7

Overlooked by many amidst the popularity of 1952 Topps Baseball, the 1952 Berk Ross Willie Mays should be considered something of a bargain for those looking for early cards of the outfielder. Measuring 2" by 3", the card features a tinted photograph and a very bland design. This is no doubt a factor when it comes to the relatively low price when compared to the more much more expensive Topps and Bowman cards released the same year.

1952 Berk Ross Willie Mays 197x300 Image

6. 1955 Topps Willie Mays #194

There are no shortage of adjective one could use to describe the beauty of 1955 Topps Baseball. Other than the switch from a vertical to a horizontal format, there aren't a lot of differences from the previous year's release. This is doubly true with Mays as it uses the same portrait shot. Still, it's an elegant look that resonates with collectors still today.

1955 Topps Baseball Willie Mays 260x184 Image

5. 1954 Topps Willie Mays #90

Doing a double-take? That's the same portrait found on the 1955 Topps Willie Mays. And 1956 Topps Willie Mays. Despite the familiar look, it's still an early Mays card. Like a lot of Topps sets from the era, the design has achieved iconic status among collectors making it instantly recognizable.

1954 Topps Baseball Willie Mays 213x300 Image

4. 1952 Bowman Willie Mays #218

A second-year card from one of baseball's best. And it's gorgeous -- in a manly baseball card matter of speaking. The youthful face, classic stance and blue sky drip in nostalgia. Understandably not as popular as the next card on the list, many will agree the 1952 Bowman Willie Mays is better looking.

1952 Bowman Baseball Willie Mays 197x300 Image

3. 1953 Topps Willie Mays #244

Another uncharacteristically serious shot, the 1953 Topps Willie Mays benefits from being part of the late-season high numbers. Even then, the legend is a short print among the already less abundant series. The combination of the short supply and the fact that it's a very early Willie Mays card ensure its legacy in the hobby.

1953 Topps Baseball Willie Mays 210x300 Image

2. 1952 Topps Willie Mays #261

Aesthetically, the 1952 Topps Willie Mays isn't his nicest card. But this second-year card does come from a truly landmark release. As a result, it's easy to look past the fact that the all-time legend isn't looking as happy as he normally is (at least on cardboard).

1952 Topps Baseball Willie Mays1 210x300 Image

1. 1951 Bowman Willie Mays RC #305

The lone Willie Mays rookie card, it is also one of the most attractive. While it may seem strange to see the edge of the background drape, it adds a little quirk to and otherwise excellent likeness. 1951 Bowman Baseball is one of the best sets ever produced, not only for its checklist, but its beauty as well.

1951 Bowman Willie Mays RC 260x168 Image

Special Mention: 1956 Topps Hank Aaron #31

A Hank Aaron card on a list of the best Willie Mays cards? Yup. Look at the gentleman in the white jersey in the background -- the face, not the jersey. Say, hey, that's Willie Mays! So while this isn't a Willie Mays card, it actually sort of is. And even if we're stretching it a little, it's still an excuse to admire one of the most attractive baseball cards ever produced.

1956 Topps Hank Aaron 260x185 Image

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1958 Topps Rival Fence Busters Willie Mays-Duke Snider Card #436 EX-MT
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1997 Topps Mantle #33 Mickey Mantle Willie Mays Yankees Giants 1962
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1972 TOPPS Willie Mays HOF #49 EXMT EXMT+ NM
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1957 Topps Willie Mays #10 VG Condition GIANTS
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1966 Topps #1 Willie Mays San Francisco Giants EX Condition
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1959 Topps Willie Mays All Star Card #563
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Willie Mays - Mets - 1973 Topps #305 - Vintage Baseball Card
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1962 Topps Willie Mays San Francisco Giants #300 Baseball Card
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1958 Topps #5 Willie Mays San Francisco Giants HOF NM Condition
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1957 Topps BB Card #10 Willie Mays - PSA Graded EX-MT 6
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Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan's collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection. Ryan can be found on Twitter @tradercracks and Google+.

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