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    The 1951 National League Rookie of the Year returns to the fray...

    1952 Willie Mays Game Worn New York Giants Pants & Cap. Like his fellow 1951 rookie Mickey Mantle, this New York Giants outfielder began his career ice-cold, going hitless in his first twenty-three at bats. But, rather fittingly, it was number twenty-four that broke the streak, as Mays took a Warren Spahn offering deep over the Polo Grounds' right field fence. Spahn later joked, "I'll never forgive myself. We might have gotten rid of Willie forever if I'd only struck him out." But, instead, Mays only grew stronger, claiming Rookie of the Year honors and helping secure the first National League pennant in fourteen seasons for his New York Giants.

    So the fans at Coogan's Bluff were crestfallen when Uncle Sam came calling not long after the start of Mays' sophomore season, claiming the superstar slugger for Korean War conscription for the rest of that year and all of 1953. Presented are the pants and cap he left behind, the last worn by Mays before the historic World Championship season of 1954.

    The road grey flannel pants exhibit light but definite wear, appropriate for the thirty-four game played prior to Mays' military service. Interior waistband is tagged, "MacGregor Goldsmith Size 32," correct for Mays' lean build. "Set 1 1952" designator is sewn above, and an embroidered swatch reading "Mays" is properly placed just below the waistband at center rear. We believe that the included black leather belt is original to the garment, though we cannot say this with complete certainty.

    The pants were discovered with a period Giants cap bearing the correct "Tim McAuliffe" manufacturer's label and handwritten size designators of "6 /78," a very small size that is both quite rare and correct for Mays. While no printed or numerical attribution to Mays exists, the cap's storage with Mays pants and the sizing strongly suggest original ownership by the young legend on the rise. The cracked bill is another key trait, as Mays was often photographed with his cap folded and tucked into his back pocket.

    While a 1951 Minneapolis Millers jersey stands as the earliest known Mays game used garment, this pairing represents, to the best of our understanding, the oldest to surface from his service to the Giants franchise. Certainly a jersey from this period would command a figure approaching or exceeding $100,000, so this is an exciting opportunity to participate in the earliest period of Mays' Hall of Fame career at a more forgiving price point. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2015
    21st-22nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 14
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,028

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