Classic card: Mays, McCovey 'Fence Busters'

April 15th, 2021

As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, we've asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards, and we've broken them down by team. We'll be revealing submissions regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.

Giants: Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, 1967 Topps

Talk about a card with two of the most iconic players in a franchise’s history. This “Fence Busters” card features the “Say Hey Kid” and “Stretch” McCovey, a pair of Hall of Famers who struck fear into the hearts of National League pitchers throughout the 1950s and ’60s for the Giants.

What’s great about this card, among other elements, is that it shows the two standing next to each other with bats in their hands, surely talking hitting. Imagine being a fly on the wall for that conversation.

McCovey towers over Mays but is keenly interested in whatever it is the legend is saying, and Mays’ face indicates he’s likely discussing a topic of serious focus in the realm of slugging.

The design of the card is simple and the aesthetic is beautiful with the “Fence Busters” at the bottom appearing in green, and the only visible orange and black is in the uniforms themselves. -- Manny Randhawa

Iconic Giants card: Willie Mays, 1952 Topps
Before "The Catch" in the 1954 World Series, before the 660 home runs, before being considered one of the best all-around players in baseball history, Willie Mays was a rookie. And this 1952 Topps card shows Mays with an expression of focus for a man who knew he had something to prove. He certainly went out and did that in a 22-year Hall of Fame career.

Mays made his MLB debut in May of 1951 for the New York Giants, and after a rough start, he recovered to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. The "Say Hey Kid" hit 20 homers that first campaign and then spent most of the 1952 season and all of the '53 season serving in the United States military.

Upon returning to the Majors in 1954, it was as if Mays never left. That season was a big one for both Mays individually and the Giants as a team -- Mays was named NL MVP after launching 41 homers and leading the Majors in both batting average (.345) and slugging (.667). And the Giants swept the Indians in the World Series.

Mays outdid himself the next year, blasting 51 homers and adding 13 triples to lead all of baseball. The rest, as they say, is history. But the 1952 Topps card of Mays, with its simple design of having the player's autograph printed inside a rectangle bordered with stars, is a beautiful reminder that they were all rookies once, even the greatest of them. And how about that classic Giants logo?

Owen S. of Boston was one of the survey respondents who submitted this card, and he underscored just how aesthetically pleasing it is.

"Technically, it is my father's, but I like to say it is mine," Owen said. "It is my favorite not only because it is very rare, but the card is a beautiful work of art."

It is, indeed, rare -- according to PSA Authentication and Grading Services, a mint condition Willie Mays in the 1952 Topps set is valued at $250,000.