So yesterday a surprise envelope arrived from Lanny. Seeing how he’d just sent me three 1954s including a Monte Irvin this was not just unexpected but verged on being confusing. Inside was a team bag with its contents obscured and just a note showing that said “Read First!”
So I did and why don’t I just let it speak for itself.
This shot my eyebrows up. One, because the list of cards that I’ve mentioned that I’ll never get is pretty short and consists of cards that are massively out of my price range. And second, because Lanny is notoriously picky about the condition of his cards and so I was curious about what condition “like REALLY beat up” meant to someone like him.*
*For me it would mean massive paper loss someplace or torn in half. In other words typical Zeenut condition.
Since the card was still hidden between some advertising inserts* I had a bit of unwrapping left before I started swearing.
*Amusingly enough these were “Spring Fever Baseball” inserts from 1986 Topps Mini Leaders.
Swearing in a good way. As in giant smile holy fucking shit are you kidding me kind of swearing. Is it beat up? Absolutely. But aside from the two top corners it’s in really great shape. None of the picture itself is damaged. No creases. No scuffs. I’m not sure this even got flipped. It was definitely loved and taped into an album but compared to most of my 1961 cards it’s in much better shape.
As with some of my favorite things, wear like this indicates card usage rather than card abuse to me. Which is great. It’s beat up in a way that suggests how it was taken care of. And it’s taken care of in a way that I can only conclude that it was was valued by a previous owner in the way that little kids love things to death. Yes I can totally see my kids taping their favorite cards into an album.
Am I assuming it was a favorite card? A little. But it’s Willie Fucking Mays—Willie Fucking Mays the year after he won the MVP and the World Series and made The Catch and wait that’s all on the back of the card.
Yeah there’s writing here. To my eyes it looks like “194 193” which I don’t understand but guess it might have something to do with the card number. Thankfully it doesn’t obscure any of the text. And thankfully the owner didn’t push any harder since it’s pushing through to the front as it is.
It’s wonderful to have all this back information though and be reminded of a time before Mays was the best player in the game. It’s not just that the New York Giants Mays cards are super cool because they predate the move West, their early-career nature shows Mays’s emergence and it’s wonderful to see him so young.
I never expected to get any of May’s 1950s cards—especially his New York ones. 1955 is a great one to have. Great photo. Nice color. Captures the stats and highlights of one of his best seasons. And it competes my team set of 1955 Topps Giants cards. Yes there are only 10 in the set* but it’s still a completed team set. Until yesterday my oldest set was 1973. Now it’s 1955.
*Bowman has 17 for comparison.
Thanks so much Lanny! Sorry about all the swearing.