Friday, June 17, 2016
I'll spoil the suspense: I am now the proud and ecstatic owner of a genuine, real-deal 1973 Topps Willie Mays card.
I came to be in possession of this card via an eBay auction I stumbled upon which had under a minute remaining. The winning bid was $2.25 plus 3.99 for shipping (I'll address the latter figure in a few moments).
Upon seeing the words YOU ARE THE WINNING BIDDER in green font on the auction screen in front of me, I was instantly swelled with excitement as well as dread. In my haste to punch in my bid, did I misread something or misinterpret the description? Because in my experience, I haven't come across a '73 Mays on eBay or any other site for such a measly price tag. Certainly not one that doesn't carry the aura of having been pasted to a treehouse wall or stuck into a bicycle spoke some 40 years ago.
I read and re-read the description posted by the seller and saw nothing to give flame to my trepidation. This wasn't a reprint or a knock-off or an Archives or a Berger's Best or whatever.
Regardless, I kept up my guard until last night, when I arrived home to find a PWE from a strange address among my mail.
My Willie had arrived! And, despite my doubts, it's the real thing!
I zoomed out a bit on the scan so you can get a better feel for the condition of the card. Of course, there is some minor fraying of the edges and the corners and centering aren't perfect. But, the condition of those elements is truly terrific for the price I paid and then some. Also worthy of note, there aren't any bends or wrinkles or markings on the card. Nor is it miscut.
Basically, this is card is in better shape than the '73 Mays I always imagined I would someday own. I figured I'd pick up a beat-up copy sometime down the road and be happy to at least have Willie's last Topps card--and only card as a Met--in some shape or form.
I didn't think I'd own a copy of this iconic card anytime soon, nor was I actively looking for one, honestly. I routinely search for Mets short prints or variations on eBay and for some reason this one came up when I searched "Mets SP." Almost like it was meant for me.
What makes this card and its condition even more miraculous is the means by which it made its journey from Nevada (the seller's home base) to Delaware.
Recall, if you will, that the stated shipping cost was $3.99. Well, for the cost of nearly four bucks, the seller slipped this card (and two others--more on that in a sec) into a penny sleeve, shoved it into a #6 3/4 envelope, stamped it and sent it packing. Hey, I'm all for PWE shipping, and I use it often. But, let's be real, people. Four dollars? Shameful. But, no biggie, the guy got a one-star rating on the "How reasonable was the shipping cost?" question on the feedback form.
Anyhow, if you ever doubted our postal service and the care they take, this card is testament to the process. It was unharmed during it's 2,000+ mile trip plus various sorting and processing measures, protected only by a flimsy envelope and a one-cent piece of plastic. Truly remarkable!
The other cards in the 'lot' I received are here....
This Piazza was actually listed as part of the winning auction, and it's a card I needed, so that's cool!
And then there's this.
I don't know where this Bentiez card fits into the grand scheme of things, but here it is. Maybe it was included in the envelope as a means of protection for the Mays and Piazza cards? Who knows. Armando saved a lot of games as a Met, so perhaps this was his final bullpen call.
Shaky shipping practices and miscellaneous Benitez card aside, it was a truly momentous occasion to finally secure one of the most stupendous "sunset" cards of all-time. Arguably the greatest player the game has ever seen preserved on cardboard at the nighttime of his career in the city where it all began. Wearing the uniform of my beloved Mets. It's kind of a perfect card, really.
Still, I can't shake this certain feeling. That it shouldn't have been this easy, or that the card was somehow ill-gotten. Perhaps, in a cosmic sense, I was never intended to see the auction listing. I'm picturing a scenario straight out of a Stephen King story, where I arrive home one day to find the card reverted back to its true form--a 1988 Mike Trujillo--because I'm not the rightful owner.
Okay, that's a bit much. I guess I'll just enjoy the card and leave the fiction to the professionals.
Until next time... SAY HEY!