Willie Mays’ first NFT listing features diploma, will benefit youth baseball

Willie Mays was ahead of his time as a baseball player. Now, the Hall of Famer is out front in the NFT craze.

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Baseball’s oldest living Hall of Famer, who turned 90 in May, announced that a non-fungible token will be placed for auction on the marketplace Nifty Gateway, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Mays’ high school diploma and a report card from Fairfield High School in Alabama will be featured, the newspaper reported.

Other items will be copies of a scouting report and his first contract with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues -- he was paid $250 per month -- and a telegram informing him that his contract had been purchased by the New York Giants. The NFT will be called “The Making of a Giant,” according to the Chronicle.

Mays’ 90th Birthday Celebrity Drop will go live on Sunday -- Oct. 24, a nod to his jersey number, ESPN reported.

All proceeds from the release will be donated to Mays’ Say Hey Foundation, according to ESPN. The foundation establishes baseball programs in Mays’ home state of Alabama and the restoration of youth baseball facilities at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, where he played for the Black Barons from 1948 to 1950.

“I’ve never forgotten the people who supported me, taught me, and helped me find my way,” Mays said in a news release. “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.”

ll proceeds from the release will be donated to Mays’ Say Hey Foundation, which establishes baseball programs for underprivileged youth in Alabama, as well as the restoration of youth baseball facilities at Rickwood Field, the home of the Negro Leagues’ Birmingham Barons, for whom Mays played from 1948 to 1950.

The auction will be held in a partnership with the Costacos Collection, the Chronicle reported. The group was founded by sports poster artist John Costacos, CEO Justin Moorad and digital art leader Mike Campau, according to ESPN.

“I didn’t really understand how these computer tokens worked at first,” Mays told ESPN. “I had to get them explained to me. I’m used to tokens you can hold in your hand. But I guess people collect them the way they do trading cards. And those cards are worth a lot of money now. And I figure anything like that, that people can enjoy and that help me support the kids, is something worth doing.”

Costacos said its future NFT lineup will include Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, Ivan Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Steve Largent, Jim McMahon and Will Clark, the Chronicle reported.