1973 Willie Mays Pro-Model Bat Dating from His Final Season With the Mets
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $4,113
Willie Mays Adirondack signature-model "M63" bat dating from the 1971-1973 manufacturing period. Graded A8.5 by MEARS, one of three graded at this level, with only six graded higher. Although the bat conforms to the general 1971-1979 manufacturing period, this extraordinary bat can be conclusively dated precisely to the 1973 season due to its remarkable provenance. The history of how our consignor obtained this bat, which has been a family treasure since 1973 but is new to the organized hobby, is detailed in his accompanying one-page letter. In full:
To whom it may concern, In 1973 my father Dick Watt was the Plant Manager of the Linde Stars, a Division of Union Carbide, the supplier of All-Star rings to the baseball players. At the All-Star game my father met Willie Mays and Willie really liked the ring and wanted to get more Linde Star rings for family members. My father and Willie worked out a business deal and later that summer Willie was in some advertising for Linde Star rings. My father and I went to see a Mets game later that summer and got to go into the Mets locker room before the game. After the Mets game, my father received a bat from Willie as a gift. The bat has been in my possession since that time in 1973.
If any further provenance were needed, it should be noted that the owner of this bat has also consigned to this auction a 1973 All-Star Game ring (because his father was plant manager, he was given a ring) and a baseball glove signed by various members of the 1973 American and National League teams that are being offered as one lot. The blue-ring Adirondack bat features Mays' uniform number ("24") written in vintage black marker on the knob. Also written on the knob in what appears to be black ink is the bat's original factory weight, "34." Light use is displayed mainly in the form of cleat marks. On May 11, 1973, Willie Mays was traded by San Francisco to the New York Mets in what would be his twenty-second and final season in the Majors. While his best days were clearly behind him, Mays appeared in sixty-six games and helped lead the club to its second National League pennant in franchise history. For the season, Mays batted .211 with six home runs and twenty-five RBI. It seems only fitting that Mays finished his Major League career in the same city in which it began. Considered by many to be the greatest center fielder who ever lived, Mays ranks fourth on the all-time home run list with 660 and is one of only four players to have totaled 3,000 or more hits and 500 or more home runs in his career. Graded A8.5 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus a half point for use, 1 point for the uniform number on the knob, and 2 points for provenance). This is one of the highest-graded Willie Mays pro-model bats listed in the MEARS census. Of the forty-four Mays bats that have been evaluated, only six have ever graded higher than this example. Mays bats dating from the era of his final season are also scarce. This is one of only seven Mays bats ever evaluated by MEARS that can potentially date to his final season with the Mets, and the only example we found that could be pinpointed to the 1973 season. This is a truly significant and simply remarkable Mays bat, with impeccable provenance, commemorating the close of one of the greatest careers in baseball history. LOA from Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $500. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $4,113