The Costacos Collection announced on Friday of last week their inaugural drop featuring one of the most respected legends in professional sports, Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays. The Sports Techie community blog missed on the opportunity to share this wonderful story before today, my apologies for being tardy. The 90th Birthday Celebration Drop took place this past Sunday, October 24, 2021 in homage to Willie’s iconic number and two days before the start of the 117th World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros that begins play today. For the fifth year, the MVP of the Fall Classic will be recognized as the “Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player.” The NFT Marketplace is one of fastest growing industries in all of sport. The Costacos Collection, Nifty Gateway and Willie Mays are pioneering partners in this sports tech business endeavor benefiting young kids and teenagers here in the deep south.
Say Hey Foundation
Willie will be donating all proceeds from the drop to his Say Hey Foundation’s effort to honor the people who gave him a start in life, by establishing a baseball academy for underprivileged youth where he grew up in Alabama, and to restore the historic baseball facilities at Rickwood Field where Willie started his career with the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons. Mays said, “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.” Rickwood Field itself serves as a central theme of the drop’s art.
The first drop tells the story of Willie’s path to the majors, from Fairfield Industrial High in Birmingham, to the Negro American League, culminating with his move to the New York Giants with whom he would win the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951. 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.
“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 Collection founder John 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, 2 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, Alabama. 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.”
The Costacos Collection
Founded by renowned sports poster artist John Costacos along with CEO Justin Moorad and Digital Art Lead Mike Campau, the Costacos Collection partners with legendary athletes and their foundations to create and sell best-in-class digital art as non-fungible tokens. By focusing on only the world’s greatest athletes, the Costacos Collection is able to work closely with its player partners in order to create art that is highly personal and meaningful to the players themselves, as well as to collectors. To date, the Costacos Collection has partnered with athletes including Willie Mays, Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, Pudge Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Steve Largent, Jim McMahon, Will Clark, and others.
Nifty Gateway is an all-in-one platform that makes it easy to buy, sell, and store digital art and collectibles, otherwise known as Nifties (or NFTs). Nifty Gateway was founded by Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster in 2018, and acquired by Gemini in 2019, with the belief that crypto networks and the blockchain have the power to fundamentally change the art world by creating greater choice, independence, and opportunity for artists, creators, and collectors.
Sports Techie, MLB has a long history intertwined with collectables, technologies and baseball instruction, ballparks and civil rights, in no particular order. This Willie Mays story has all this and much more in it to be truly inspired about. Giving back is what makes the game what is it for future generations. Now with the advent of NFTs, the Say Hey Foundation together with the Costacos Collection and Nifty Gateway will benefit financially to ensure a new generation of ball players in Alabama can aspire to be the best they can at the new academy for kids of need.
My son is a Braves fan even though they need a name change yesterday, in my opinion. I am still upset with the Astros for using sports tech to steal signs skirt the rules and cheat the teams way to wins and a World Series title. That said, I do hope Atlanta can bring the fans here in the state of Georgia, across the United States and around the world, a legit championship.
My prediction is the Braves win the 2021 World Series 4-2, in a six game thriller.
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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