The Dugout│The Eight Most Prized Willie Mays Baseball Cards

Get in on the Willie Mays baseball card action, where the thrill of the game meets the excitement of making profits. Discover the top Mays cards, their jaw-dropping prices, and how they can transform your portfolio into a grand slam.

Updated Aug 25, 2023

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What is the ultimate Willie Mays baseball card? Is it the one that captures the iconic "over-the-shoulder" catch in all its glory? Or the elusive rookie card that marks the beginning of his legendary career?

In March 2021, a PSA 8 copy of the 1951 Bowman Willie Mays #305 sold for $338,400 on Goldin Auctions—its highest sale price to date.

Mays baseball cards hold more than just value. They embody the spirit of arguably the greatest baseball player ever, and each one is a piece of history waiting to be cherished.

Read on to unlock the most valuable Willie Mays baseball cards and explore the investment potential lying within them.

Who is Willie Mays?

Willie Howard Mays, the legendary centerfielder, is undeniably one of the all-time greats in Major League Baseball, redefining the centerfield position with his unmatched skills and accomplishments. From his 24 All-Star selections to 12 Gold Glove awards, Mays constantly demonstrated excellence.

Born in Westfield, Alabama, He burst onto the scene in 1951 as the National League Rookie of the Year and continued dominating with the New York/San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, earning two NL MVP titles. Mays was playing for the 1954 World Series champions the New York Giants when he made his iconic catch known simply as “The Catch.”

Revered for his extraordinary athleticism, Mays's unforgettable over-the-shoulder catch during the 1954 World Series was a moment etched in the annals of baseball history. The San Francisco Chronicle also praised his game-winning triple in 1959.

Mays's record book reflects his immense contributions to the game, going eight consecutive seasons with 100 or more RBIs. Retiring with impressive statistics including 3,283 hits, 2,062 runs scored, 1,903 RBIs, 338 stolen bases, and 660 home runs, Mays rightfully earned his place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Most valuable Willie Mays baseball cards to invest in

If you're hunting for high-value Willie Mays baseball cards that hit it out of the park, we've rounded up the crème de la crème of cardboard treasures.

With prices that could make your heart skip a beat, here's your chance to add these coveted cards to your portfolio and swing for the fences.

1. 1952 Berk Ross Willie Mays

  • Price Range: $225 to $73,716
  • Highest Sale Price: $93,000
  • PSA 9 Supply: 6
  • Brand: Berk Ross

The 1952 Berk Ross Willie Mays baseball card—often overshadowed by its counterpart, the Topps #261—is a hidden gem if you're seeking an early glimpse of the legendary outfielder.

Measuring 2-inches by 3-inches with a simple design, this card's affordability stands in contrast to the pricier options of its era. A PSA 9 copy soared to $93,000 in November 2021 on Heritage Auctions, its highest sale price. More recently, auction house Lelands facilitated the sale of a PSA 9 card for $73,716 in October 2022, while a PSA 7 fetched $6,535 at Clean Sweep Auctions in June 2023.

Though none are graded gem mint, the 1952 Berk Ross Willie Mays baseball card has a limited supply of just six PSA 9s, making this baseball card a scarce high-potential asset.

2. 1955 Topps Willie Mays #194

  • Price Range: $200 to $20,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $25,776
  • PSA 9 Supply: 12
  • Brand: Topps

The scarce 1955 Topps Willie Mays #194 baseball card has a graded supply of twelve PSA 9 copies and zero gem mints.

The majestic 1955 Topps Willie Mays #194 baseball card is a horizontal beauty locked in time. This Mays card harkens back to its predecessor, the 1954 Topps Willie Mays #90.

With a price range of $200 to $20,000, this piece of baseball history is not for the faint of heart. The most expensive one ever sold was a PSA 9 copy which auctioned for $25,776 in April 2019 via Memory Lane, Inc.

But there's been recent auction activity. On July 17, 2023, a PSA 8 sold for $6,102 on eBay. And before that, the auction site also saw a PSA 8.5 hit $11,325 on December 19, 2022.

3. 1954 Topps Willie Mays #90

  • Price Range: $145 to $80,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $84,000
  • PSA 9 Supply: 13
  • Brand: Topps

High-grade copies of the 1954 Topps Willie Mays #90 baseball card can sell for $50,000 to $80,000.

The 1954 Topps Willie Mays #90 baseball card features the familiar portrait found on the 1955 and 1956 Topps Willie Mays cards, giving this early Mays card the same timeless appeal.

The design featuring a bright yellow background gives the card an instantly recognizable aesthetic, making it legendary among collectors. While a perfect PSA 10 is elusive, there are 13 PSA 9 copies on record as of this writing.

The highest sale recorded for a PSA 9 card was for $84,000 in April 2022 at Robert Edward Auctions, so expect to shell out anywhere from $145 to more than $80,000 for a copy, depending on what grade you're investing in.

More recent sales include a PSA 7 copy selling for $3,727 on eBay in August 2023; a PSA 9 grade fetching $71,668 on Memory Lane, Inc. in May 2023; and another PSA 9 selling for $50,400 on Robert Edward Auctions in December 2022.

4. 1954 Bowman Willie Mays #89

  • Price Range: $150 to $11,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $93,146
  • PSA 9 Supply: 19
  • Brand: Bowman

In October 2022, a PSA mint 1954 Bowman Willie Mays #89 baseball card sold for $93,146—its highest sale price to date.

The 1954 Bowman Willie Mays #89 baseball card captures a legendary moment in baseball history. This card signifies the underdog New York Giants' triumphant sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series.

Among the iconic memories from that Fall Classic, none is more memorable than Mays's spectacular over-the-shoulder catch that robbed Vic Wertz of extra bases in Game One. Mays's athleticism and skill showed he could make seemingly impossible plays.

The 1954 Bowman Willie Mays #89 card ranges in price from $150 to $11,000. Its highest recorded sale of a PSA 9 for $93,146 in October 2022 exemplifies this sports card highly-coveted status. With only 19 PSA 9 examples available, the card's rarity adds to its appeal—you could own a piece of baseball history that could skyrocket in the dynamic sports card market.

In recent auctions, a PSA 8 sold for $4,500 in July 2023 while a PSA 6 sold for just $1,180 in August 2023, showing the solid long-term price potential of high-graded cards.

5. 1952 Bowman Willie Mays #218

  • Price Range: $800 to $444,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $444,000
  • PSA 9 Supply: 6
  • Brand: Bowman

The highly sought-after 1952 Bowman Willie Mays #218 baseball card, with only six PSA 9 copies, has sold for up to $444,000.

Although often overshadowed by its counterpart in the Topps series, the 1952 Bowman Willie Mays #218 baseball card is arguably the most valuable card in the entire set. And the proof is in the pudding: the highest sale price for a PSA 9 hit $444,000 in February 2022.

However, The 1952 Bowman Willie Mays #218 baseball card is notoriously hard to find, particularly in gem mint condition. The scarcity of high-grade examples makes the card truly rare, with only six PSA 9 copies and a price range of $800 to $445,000, depending on the grade and market demand.

Recent auction sales provide fascinating insights into the market's appetite for the 1952 Bowman Willie Mays card. A PSA 7 copy sold on Goldin for $7,800 in July 2023 and a PSA 2 fetched $1,065 on Clean Sweep Auctions in the same month.

6. 1953 Topps Willie Mays #244

  • Price Range: $900 to $660,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $194,579
  • PSA 10 Supply: 1
  • Brand: Topps

With only one copy known to exist, finding a gem mint 1952 Bowman Willie Mays #244 baseball card is like striking sports collector’s gold.

The 1953 Bowman Willie Mays #244 is a coveted baseball card embodies historical significance of early sports memorabilia. With its captivating artwork capturing Mays in a legendary basket catch, this short print card captures the essence that drew the masses to baseball card collecting in its heyday.

In July 2023, a PSA 3 fetched $2,999 on eBay, but in June 2023, Clean Sweep Auctions saw a PSA 7 example sell for $18,865. These figures underscore how valuable the 1952 Bowman Willie Mays card is as a rare sports collectible.

For seasoned sports card investors, no Willie Mays collection is considered complete without this remarkable card. Its historical significance lies in Mays's absence from the 1953 season due to his service in the Korean War.

While brands like Topps included Mays in their trading card sets that year, Bowman excluded him entirely. As a result, finding a 1953 Mays card, let alone getting your hands on the 1953 Topps Mays card in pristine condition, is a treasure hunt.

7. 1952 Topps Willie Mays #261

  • Price Range: $1,700 to $400,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $478,000
  • PSA 10 Supply: 1
  • Brand: Topps

A PSA near mint 1952 Topps Willie Mays #261 baseball card fetched $478,000 at Heritage Auctions. 

The 1952 Topps Willie Mays #261 baseball card is a legendary piece of high-value sports memorabilia. With its price range stretching from $1,700 to $400,000, this card has seen some extraordinary highs in the auction arena. The highest sale price for a PSA 9 stands at $478,000 back in May 2016 via Heritage Auctions.

As the first Topps card featuring Willie Mays, it holds a special place in baseball card history. Its design showcases “Willie Mays” and facsimile signature within the iconic '52 Topps nameplate adorned with yellow stars.

Acquiring this card in pristine condition is quite tough due to centering issues commonly encountered with vintage cards. The quality control standards during its printing era were not as stringent as they are today, resulting in variations and imperfections.

Despite many of these cards undergoing wear and tear over the years, there are still remarkable high-grade copies circulating. Recent auction sales include a PSA 7 card selling for $41,476 via Lelands auction in February 2023 and a PSA 8 fetching $174,000 on Goldin Auctions in June 2023.

8. 1951 Bowman Willie Mays #305 

  • Price Range: $4,000 to $800,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $338,400
  • PSA 9 Supply: 8
  • Brand: Bowman

The scarcity of the 1951 Bowman Willie Mays #305 baseball card, often called official Mays rookie card, contributes to its $4,000 to $800,000 valuation.

The 1951 Bowman Willie Mays #305 baseball card is commonly considered Mays's official rookie card—it’s worth between $4,000 and $800,000 depending on its grade and condition. Its scarcity is what makes it valuable: it has a limited supply of just eight PSA 9 cards.

The card's auction sales further highlight its allure. In March 2021, a PSA near mint 1951 Bowman Willie Mays #305 sold for $338,400 on Goldin Auctions—its highest sale price to date. Other recent transactions include a PSA 2.5 fetching $34,800 at Clean Sweep Auctions in June 2023 and a PSA 8 commanding $186,000 on Goldin in March 2023.

Combining its scarcity, historical importance as Mays rookie card, and the captivating artwork means the 1951 Bowman Willie Mays #305 baseball card holds tremendous potential for higher prices in the future.

Are Willie Mays baseball cards a good investment?

Investing in a Mays baseball card is more than just a game of catch. These cards are like having a piece of baseball history right in the palm of your hand. Their value goes far beyond the numbers on the price tag.

Investing in a Willie Mays card means you're betting on the legacy of an all-time great whose brilliance cannot be captured by mere statistics. So, if you're an investor or a hobby collector, these cards might be home run waiting to happen.

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