BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Original artwork for a baseball card of a Birmingham baseball legend is now up for auction.
Through Sept. 17, Lelands Summer Classic Auction is auctioning off the original artwork used to make Willie Mays’ 1953 Topps baseball card. As of Tuesday, bids had exceeded over $177,000.
The artwork (3.5×5″) features Mays’ name written twice on the reverse, along with his team affiliation (“N.Y.”) and an editorial notation. Like all other known 1953 Topps artworks, adhesive residue covers the reverse, otherwise the artwork is in Excellent condition overall. A 1953 Topps #244 Mays card is also included.
Willie Mays, who was born in Birmingham and grew up near Fairfield, is known for his long association with the Giants–both in New York and San Francisco–from 1951 to 1972. Previously, he spent two years playing in his hometown for the Birmingham Black Barons.
Unlike 1953 Topps cards, the artworks used to produce them are unique, as only one of each exists. Further distinguishing the artworks is that 1953 was the only year during that decade that Topps relied on paintings rather than photography for its card design. That year marked Mays’ second appearance on a Topps card. His card is also a short print, making it one of the scarcest as well.
The Mays’ card artwork was originally purchased for $88,000 at auction in 1989 by the Marriott Corporation, who used the artwork for promotional purposes and to created a limited-edition print that was sold and marketed for charitable purposes. In 1991, Marriott donated the Willie Mays artwork to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, where it has remained ever since.
All proceeds from the sale will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. To view or bid on the artwork, click here.