Willie Mays Gets His Own NFTs (and for a Great Cause)

Sports and technology have combined at an unprecedented rate. In a world that is seeing rapid blockchain adoption, athletes have joined artists and celebrities in the launch of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The Costacos Collection has announced that it will have a NFT drop dedicated to baseball legend Willie Mays on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

While NFTs have been used for all sorts of reasons, the press release indicates that Willie Mays will be donating all proceeds to his Say Hey Foundation. The first drop is The Making of a Giant (+Accompanying Bob Costas Voiceover) and the second is The Say Hey Kid.

Of the four NFTs shown in the collection, these are the numbers:

  • “The Making of a Giant” (1 edition)
  • “The Say Hey Kid” (24 editions)
  • “The Rookie” (listed as open editions)
  • “The Black Baron” (90 editions)

Willie Mays NFT

(Image for “The Making of a Giant” courtesy of The Costacos Collection)

The Making of a Giant comes with a Bob Costas voiceover. His donation to the Say Hey Foundation establishes a baseball academy for underprivileged youth where Mays grew up in Alabama. It will also restore the historic baseball facilities of Rickwood Field where Mays started his career with the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons. Rickwood Field itself serves as a central theme of the drop’s art.

According to the press release, the first drop tells the story of Willie’s path to the majors. This starts at Fairfield Industrial High in Birmingham, Alabama to the Negro American League and ultimately to the New York Giants where he won Rookie of the Year in 1951. The release further said:

The various edition pieces capture the key themes and statistics of those periods, and the 1/1 hero piece adds to the story with a number of never-before-seen personal documents and images from Willie’s journey – most notably, a copy of Willie’s high school diploma, in which he was assigned a career in “cleaning, dyeing, and pressing.” Willie recalls that all Black kids were assigned trade careers, while white kids “on the other side of the barbed-wire fence” were able to choose their paths and professions. Willie’s journey to becoming one of America’s most beloved sports figures and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was only possible because of baseball and the people of Fairfield and beyond who helped him chart a different path. The NFT art piece includes a voiceover in which Willie’s powerful story is told by an iconic voice of sports, Bob Costas, who will join Mays in donating to the baseball academy and Rickwood Field restoration project.

The Costacos Collection has worked with other players to create art that is highly personal and meaningful to the players themselves. Some of the other named athletes that it has partnered with include Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, Pudge Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Steve Largent, Jim McMahon, and Will Clark. These NFTs will sell on the Nifty Gateway to buy, sell, and store digital art and collectibles.

In the press release, Will Mays added:

I’ve never forgotten the people who supported me, taught me, and helped me find my way. 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.