Hall of Famer Willie Mays' first NFT, which tells the story of his path to the Majors through one-of-a-kind digital art, is available now.
Mays will be donating all proceeds from the 90th Birthday Celebration NFT drop to the Say Hey Foundation’s efforts to establish a baseball academy for underprivileged youth in Alabama, where Mays was born and raised, and restore the historic baseball facilities at Rickwood Field, the home of the Negro Leagues’ Birmingham Black Barons, with whom Mays started a professional baseball journey that culminated when he debuted with the Giants in 1951 and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
"I've never forgotten the people who supported me, taught me and helped me find my way,” Mays said. “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. 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."
Released by the Costacos Collection and available for purchase on the digital art marketplace Nifty Gateway, Mays’ NFT features a number of never-before-seen personal documents, including a copy of his high school diploma, which notably assigned him a career in “cleaning, dyeing and pressing.”
The NFT, which was slated for Oct. 24 as an ode to the number Mays wore for much of his legendary career, also includes a voiceover from Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Costas, who will join Mays in donating to the baseball academy and Rickwood Field restoration project.
According to Costacos Collection founder John Costacos, Mays requested that the NFT focus on his baseball beginnings rather than the numerous accolades he racked up during his time with the Giants.
“In the mid-1960s, I learned to read a box score by stealing my dad’s paper to see what magic Willie Mays had done the night before,” said Costacos. “Yet with all the historic moments in his career, Willie, the humblest GOAT you’ll ever meet, asked us to focus not on his 24 All-Star Games, two MVP Awards, World Series victory in ‘54, his 12 Gold Gloves or 660 home runs -- rather, he saw this as a unique opportunity to pay tribute to his roots and earliest days growing up in Fairfield, Ala.
"We’re honored to partner with the great Willie Mays and to give fans an opportunity to connect with the legend through one-of-a-kind digital art in support of the Say Hey Foundation.”