When you find something good, you stick with it, right? Topps sure likes to lean into that one.

Heck, it might have even been their motto if they hadn’t managed to cook up “The Real One” first.

After all, we’ve seen the company go to their own well time and time again over their 70+ years in the baseball card business.

Like when they sort of flipped their 1954 design on its side to come up with the 1955s.

Or how they slid some stuff around to go from the ‘55s to the ‘56s.

Or, later, how they showcased their early cards, in miniature, on then-current cards. I’m looking at you, 1974 Hank Aaron tribute and 1975 MVPs rundowns.

And even today — maybe especially today — we see Topps returning to the ones what brung ‘em to the dance, rolling out Archives and Heritage and whatever other antique-y feeling names they can come up with to showcase today’s stars in old-school Topps designs.

It’s become a … uh … Tradition (to draw on the Fleer vernacular — see, it’s not just Topps).

Those are all pretty much in-your-face examples of sticking to what works, though.

I mean, everyone knew Topps was summonsing the ghosts of 1963 when they rolled out their 1983 classics.

We all realized that those 1982 Kmart cards weren’t really the Topps cards from the years they depicted (well, maybe not that one).

We understand that Mike Trout didn’t actually appear on a little-hat 1981 Topps card (even though Steve Trout did).

Sometimes, though, Topps will return to their roots in more subtle ways. Ways that may not be as forthright, and often not obvious at all.

Take the 1966 Topps Willie Mays card, for example.

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Here we had the reigning National League MVP smiling for the camera (or slightly to the left of said), holding a baseball just above his fabled Gold(en) Glove.

This has become a classic shot over the years, even if 1966 Topps doesn’t often top “favorite design” lists among hobbyists.

Overall, it’s a solid card featuring a happy-looking living legend just as he’s about to slide out of his absolute peak years, wearing that timeless Giants home uniform, to boot.

Three years later, Mays was coming off two straight down years (for him), his home run totals having dipped to 22 and 23, respectively.

Things would get worse in 1969 as Mays played his age-38 season, before a brief uptick to start the 70s.

But Topps?

They were still in good-time mode with Say Hey. See here?

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Yeah, that’s the same smiling Mays, same baseball-in-hand, same Gold(en) Glove, same light pole over his left shoulder.

Same photo.

Just zoomed in.

And in case you don’t believe me, here we have the blown-up Mays, cut back down and jammed clumsily next to the original smiley Mays.

Same darn picture, modulo some fuzziness and zoominess.

And who knows when the photo actually originated?

I mean, if Topps was willing to reuse the shot three years apart, might it not make sense that they’d have also been willing to dredge up some photo they took in 1963 or 1960 or whenever for that original go-round in 1966?

Yeah, probably.

But, (say) hey — if you’re going to go all Groundhog Day with a baseball card, you could do worse than bringing back a lovely shot of Willie Mays, maybe the greatest overall talent the game has ever seen.

Don’t cha think?

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We ran down every Mays cards from Topps base sets during his career over on YouTube. Check out the full cardboard splendor of the Say Hey Kid!

1962 TOPPS WILLIE MAYS #300 VG VS4272

$40.00
End Date: Thursday 07/28/2022 10:00:36 EDT
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1952 Topps Willie Mays #261

$35.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday 06/29/2022 15:00:01 EDT
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1959 Topps Willie Mays All Star Giants HOF #563 VG+

$74.98
End Date: Thursday 07/28/2022 18:03:54 EDT
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Willie Mays 1954 Topps Very Good NY Giants #90

$399.99
End Date: Thursday 07/28/2022 12:16:40 EDT
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1966 Topps #1 Willie Mays POOR San Francisco Giants

$2.25 (2 Bids)
End Date: Thursday 07/07/2022 22:08:55 EDT
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1972 MLB Topps Willie Mays San Fransisco Giants #49

$5.99
End Date: Thursday 07/28/2022 00:17:48 EDT
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1954 Topps #90 WILLIE MAYS, New York Giants, HOF SGC 1

$125.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday 07/05/2022 16:14:50 EDT
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