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The surprising journey of my late father’s Willie Mays baseball card

My mother not too long ago discovered a pack of outdated baseball playing cards within the bed room desk of my father, who handed away almost two years in the past. The playing cards had been of gamers from the previous New York Giants, his favourite boyhood workforce, together with his favourite participant, the good Willie Mays. She gave them to me and puzzled in the event that they had been price a lot. I didn’t think about so, however after returning dwelling and Googling the Mays card, I used to be surprised.

A 1953 Topps Willie Mays card could possibly be valued from $2,000 to $150,000 relying on its situation. I used to be sure my dad’s card may deliver towards the low finish of the vary, and I fantasized the excessive finish. It appeared pristine, a minimum of to my untrained eye. Of course it was in effective situation: It had by no means been man-handled or, extra precisely, boy-handled. My father was already 22 years outdated by 1953. That he had stored the cardboard in his desk drawer for therefore a few years after transferring with my mother a number of instances over his life astonished me.

From what I may inform, just a few hundred of that specific card exist. A baseball memorabilia knowledgeable on-line praised its paintings, a gauzy portrait, as if Rembrandt had been commissioned to color the middle fielder getting ready to make his signature “basket catch.” Topps’ ‘53 Mays is especially hard to find in good condition, the reviewer wrote, because of a thick black bottom border that was easily scuffed. My imagination lost its cap as it dashed home: The border on my dad’s card was good.

It was all so poetic: A love of baseball that my grandfather found within the Polo Grounds of Upper Manhattan a century in the past and had handed down the road had led to a uncommon, beneficial baseball card handed down the road. I spent a pair hundred {dollars} to get the cardboard insured, packed securely, categorical mailed after which professionally graded by one of many few corporations that performs such work.

The card turned out to be a reprint from 1991.

It was barely narrower than the unique, with a couple of different small distinguishing particulars undetected by my untrained eye. My dad possible purchased it within the Nineteen Nineties, already a grandfather then however nonetheless nostalgic for the workforce he had adored earlier than it was uprooted in 1957 to California from New York. The card’s present worth: possibly $10. Before I’d anxiously mailed the cardboard to be graded, I had taken a selfie holding it up in my surgically-gloved hand, barely paranoid, in case I wanted photographic proof of possession. The self-portrait seems foolish now, however that was earlier than I knew solely the dream was priceless.

I feel my father, wealthy in different methods, would have beloved the entire story.

— Andrew Ratner, Abingdon

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