Shopping for Willie Mays memorabilia? Here are some tips.

Baseball legend Willie Mays dies at 93, sparking interest in his memorabilia - Photo by New York Public Library

There may be some scam artists trying to cash in on his popularity

Major League Baseball great Willie Mays died this week at the age of 93, a landmark moment for baseball fans young and old.

Older fans might have actually seen the “say hey kid” play, either on TV or in person. Younger fans have only seen videos or films since Mays retired from the New York Mets in 1973 after spending all of his career except two years playing center field for the San Francisco Giants.

Mays’ death has sparked renewed interest in his memorabilia. Before his death his rookie baseball card was for sale on eBay for $2,500. After his death a seller is offering it for $18,000.

For fans who would like to purchase something to remember Mays by – maybe an autographed baseball or a baseball card – caution should be the watchword. Here are some tips for avoiding a ripoff when purchasing Mays memorabilia – or any sports memorabilia.

How not to get ripped off

  • Make sure its a reputable dealer: Do your homework and only make purchases from reputable dealers or auction houses that specialize in sports memorabilia.

  • Make sure what you’re buying is authentic: Many sports memorabilia items comewith a certificate of authenticity. If the seller can’t provide that, it may be wise to reconsider.

  • Make sure the seller is legit: A simple Google search may tell you if other people have had a bad experience. Look for for any history of complaints or fraudulent activities.

  • You can request povenance: Request information about the item's history and previous ownership. That can add credibility to the item's authenticity.

  • Get a close look: If it is possible, try to inspect the item in person or request high-resolution images. Look for telltale signs of forgery or tampering.

  • Payment methods: If the seller wants to be paid in gift cards, he’s a scammer. Make sure you use secure payment methods that offer buyer protection, such as credit cards or reputable online payment services.

  • Ask an expert: If you anren’t sure the seller is on the up and up, look for experts who can offer some guidance. 

A good investment?

Is Willie Mays memorabilia worth the prices that are now being changed? It depends. He is considered by many to be among the best all-around players in Major League Baseball history.

He played in 3,005 games and played in 24 all star games. In his rookie season, Mays led the league with a .345 batting average and 13 triples while blasting 41 homers and ringing up 110 RBI. He helped the Giants week the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

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