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Willie Mays Drops His First NFT to Benefit Say Hey Foundation

BY Anna Chan

October 25, 2021

Willie Mays may be 90, but he’s still staying on top of what’s hot. The baseball legend dropped his first NFT collection, The 90th Birthday Celebration Drop, on Sunday, Oct. 24, two days ahead of Game One of the World Series between the Braves and the Astros. The date of the release also holds a special significance: 24 is Mays’ jersey number.

The drop, which is in partnership with digital artist Mike Campau and the Costacos Collection, traces the Hall of Famer’s path to Major League Baseball, including his high-school days in Alabama, to the Negro American League, all the way to the New York Giants. (Mays retired with the New York Mets in 1973.) The different edition pieces provide a snapshot of Mays’ history. There’s also a 1/1 piece — which features celebrated sportscaster Bob Costas telling Mays’ story — with notable documents, including his high-school diploma, a report card, a scouting report, one of his earliest baseball contracts and more.

“I’ve never forgotten the people who supported me, taught me, and helped me find my way. I want every child to have the same chances that I had, and this gives me a way to do that starting in my original hometown,” Mays said in a statement. “Rickwood was the first place I ever got to see professional ballplayers, and I want these kids to learn the game and be inspired the way I was.”

Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., is a central theme in the drop. All the proceeds from the NFT drop will go toward restoring the baseball facilities at Rickwood Field, and the baseball legend’s Say Hey Foundation. The non-profit is working toward establishing a baseball academy for underprivileged youth in Alabama.

The former athlete, who turned 90 back in May, also spoke to ESPN about getting into the NFT space. “I didn’t really understand how these computer tokens worked at first,” the center fielder told ESPN. “I had to get them explained to me. I’m used to tokens you can hold in your hand. But I guess people collect them the way they do trading cards. And those cards are worth a lot of money now. And I figure anything like that, that people can enjoy and that help me support the kids, is something worth doing.”

Mays’ NFT drop is currently on auction at Nifty Gateway.

Photos courtesy of Mike Campau.

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