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L E’s Stories – From The Birmingham Black Barons To Making The Catch As The Say Hey Kid – Salute To Willie Mays

Bone Daddy started playing organized baseball in 1954 at the age of seven…. when he first played T-ball in the Central Little League in Midland, Texas….. and continuing through High School at Midland High through 1965 when he finished his senior year of high school baseball, this was the Golden Age of professional baseball in New York City….which was the home three of the best MLB franchises of all time…..the New York Yankees….the New York Giants…..and the Brooklyn Dodgers….and roaming center field for the three hallowed teams were three of the best outfielders to ever play the game…. Mickey Mantle for the Yanks….Willie Mays for the Giants…..and Duke Snider for the Dodgers…..while all three are in the Hall of Fame.  At least one of these three teams played in the World Series in every year from 1952 to 1965….while facing each other in 6 of the 14 years….with one of them becoming World Champions in 12 of the 14….so, the center of the baseball universe during this era was New York City….and the three most celebrated players were their center fielders…..Willie, Mickey and The Duke.  Today’s story is about Willie Mays….who was probably the best of the three….albeit that is difficult for me to say…..cuz The Mick was my favorite ballplayer of all time…..so, with me, deciding who was better between Mantle and Mays is like splitting hairs….it is just really hard to do….but regardless The Say Hey Kid more than deserves his place being showcased here at ImaSportsphile…. as he has meant as much to baseball as dang near any other player….and certainly in the memories of Bone Daddy while growing up loving to play the game of baseball….while emulating Willie in many backyard Home Run Derby competitions with his brothers and fellow baseball teammates….even to the degree of becoming very adept at making the ‘basket catch” while playing his favorite position of center field…..which brings to mind one of my favorite memories of Bone Daddy playing center field in the 1958 Central Little League All Star Game….when while in process of making a “basket catch” in center field with his team leading by one run in the bottom of the last inning…..with two outs and a man on first….when he misjudged the catch and the ball hit him on the head and bounced over the fence for a home run…..as the opposing team won the game 2 – 1.  Anyway, I am sure that The Say Hey Kid missed his share of “basket catches” while learning the art while growing up.  

 

 

MLB – 1951 To 1973 – ESPN Classics Special – Sports Century – Willie Mays

 

Willie Howard Mays Jr. (born May 6, 1931), nicknamed “The Say Hey Kid”, is an American former professional baseball center fielder….who spent almost all of his 22-season Major League Baseball (MLB) career playing for the New York/San Francisco Giants (1951–1952, 1954–1972) before finishing his career with the New York Mets (1972–1973). Regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.  As of his birthday in 2021, he is the oldest living Baseball Hall of Famer at 90 years of age.

 

 

MLB – 2011 – San Francisco Giants Special On Willie Mays 80th Birthday – “The Say Hey Kid Inside The Clubhouse”                                                                       

 

At age 17, Mays joined the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948….while playing with them until the Giants signed him once he graduated high school in 1950….when he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951…then spent two years in the United States Army during the Korean War….while returning from service to win the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1954….after leading the league in batting with a .345 batting average.  His over-the-shoulder catch of a Vic Wertz fly ball in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series is one of the most famous baseball plays of all time….which is simply referred to even today as “The Catch”….as the Giants swept the Cleveland Indians….which ended up being the lone World Series triumph of Mays’s career.

 

 

 MLB – 1967 – ABC Sports Special – “A Portrait Of Willie Mays”                     

 

Mays led the NL with 51 home runs (HR) in 1955…..and in 1956, he stole 40 bases….while leading the NL in steals for the first of four straight years….then he won his 1st of 12 Gold Glove Awards in 1957….which is still a record for outfielders today.  The Giants moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season….when Mays contended for the batting title until the final day of 1958….while hitting a career-high .347…..then he batted over .300 for the next two seasons….while leading the league in hits in 1960.  After leading the NL with 129 runs scored in 1961, Mays led the NL in home runs in 1962 as the Giants won the NL pennant and faced the New York Yankees in the World Series….which the Giants lost in seven games.  By 1963, Mays was making over $100,000 a year…. when in 1964, his manager Alvin Dark named him the Giant’s captain…..as he led the NL with 47 home runs that year….plus he hit 52 the following year….while leading the NL and winning his 2nd MVP award….and in 1966 was the last of 10 seasons in which he had over 100 runs batted in (RBI).  In 1969, he hit the 600th home run of his career….and he got his 3,000th hit in 1970…..then in 1972, he was traded to the Mets….where Mays spent the rest of that season and 1973 with them before retiring.  He then served as a coach for the Mets until 1979….and later rejoined the Giants as a special assistant to the president and general manager.

 

 

MLB – 2005 – Special Interview – Willie Mays With Bob Costas – “The Say Hey Kid Talks About His Career”                                                                                       

 

Mays finished his career batting .302 with 660 home runs, the sixth-most of all time….along with 1,903 runs batted in.  He holds MLB records for most putouts (7,095)….and the most extra-inning home runs (22).  Over his career, he was selected for 24 All-Star Games….which is tied for the 2nd-most of all time.  Mays was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999….and ranked second on The Sporting Newss “List of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players”, behind only Babe Ruth.  President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

 

 

MLB – 1951 To 1973 – Comcast Sports Network Special – “Legends: Willie Mays”                                                                                                                               

 

Willie Mays was born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama….which was a primarily black company town near Fairfield.  His father, Cat Mays, was a talented baseball player with the black team at the local iron plant….and his mother, Annie Satterwhite, was a gifted high school basketball and track star.  His parents never married but separated when Mays was three…..as his father raised him and two girls, Sarah and Ernestine.  Cat Mays worked as a railway porter and later at the steel mills in Westfield…..when he exposed Willie to baseball at an early age….while playing catch with him at age five….and allowing him to sit on the bench with his Birmingham Industrial League team at ten.  His favorite baseball player growing up was Joe DiMaggio….with other favorites were Ted Williams and Stan Musial.  Mays played several sports at Fairfield Industrial High School….as he was on the basketball team and led players at all-black high schools in Jefferson County in scoring…..plus, Mays played quarterback, fullback and punter for the football team.  Though he turned 18 in 1949, Mays did not graduate from Fairfield until 1950, which journalist Allen Barra calls “a minor mystery in Willie’s life”….so, he graduated in 1950.

 

 

MLB – The 1950’s – An RKO-PATHE Sportscope Special – “Willie Mays An The New York Giants Of The 1950’s”                                                                                    

 

Mays’s professional baseball career began in 1948 when he played briefly during the summer with the Chattanooga Choo-Choos, a Negro minor league team….then later that year he joined the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League….which was managed by Piper Davis….who was a teammate of Mays’s father on the industrial team.  When Fairfield Industrial principal E. J. Oliver threatened to suspend Mays for playing professional ball, Davis and Mays’s father worked out an agreement that Mays would only play home games for the Black Barons….and in return, he could still play high school football….and that is when Mays helped Birmingham advance to the 1948 Negro World Series….which they lost 4–1 to the Homestead Grays.  He hit .262 for the season and stood out because of his excellent fielding and base running.

 

 

Baseball – 1920 To 1960 – Negro Leagues Special – The Story Of The Birmingham Black Barons – With PhD Larry Powell

 

Several Major League Baseball (MLB) teams were interested in signing Mays….but they had to wait until he graduated high school to offer him a contract…..as the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers both scouted him….but New York Giants scout Eddie Montague was the one who signed him to a $4,000 contract…..then Mays spent the rest of 1950 with the Class B Trenton Giants of the Interstate League and batted .353….when he was promoted to the Class AAA Minneapolis Millers of the American Association in 1951…. where he batted .477 in 35 games…..while playing excellent defense….so, Willie Mays was called up by the Giants on May 24, 1951. Initially, Mays was reluctant to accept the promotion because he did not believe he was ready to face major league pitchers…..when a stunned Giants’ manager Leo Durocher called Mays directly and said, “Quit costing the ball club money with long-distance phone calls and join the team.”

 

 

MLB – 1951 To 1971 – Highlights Special – “Willie Mays Career With The Giants”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

The Giants hoped Mays would help them defensively in center field, as well as offensively…..as the Polo Grounds featured an unusual horseshoe shape….with a relatively short left field of 280 feet (85 m)….and a right field fence of 258 feet (79 m)) down the lines….but the deepest center field in baseball with 483 feet (147 m) in dead center.  Mays appeared in his first major league game on May 25 against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shibe Park while batting 3rd…..but he had no hits in his first 12 at bats in the major leagues….but in his 13th game on May 28, he hit a home run off Warren Spahn over the left-field roof of the Polo Grounds…..then he went hitless in his next 12 at-bats….and Durocher dropped him to 8th in the batting order on June 2….and suggested that Mays stop trying to pull the ball and just make contact.  Mays responded with four hits over his next two games on June 2nd and 3rd….and by the end of the month, he had pushed his batting average to over .300….and would bat close to .290 for the rest of the season….and although his .274 average, 68 RBI and 20 home runs in 121 games would rank among the lowest totals of his career, he still won the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year Award.  On August 11, the Giants  found themselves 13+12 games back of the Dodgers in the NL pennant race….as Brooklyn manager Charlie Dressen triumphantly predicted, “The Giants is dead.”….however, the Giants went 40–18 in the season’s final 58 games….while winning their last seven of the year to finish the regular season tied with the Dodgers.  During the pennant race, Mays’s fielding and strong throwing arm were instrumental in several important Giants’ victories.  Mays was in the on-deck circle on October 3 when Bobby Thomson hit a three-run homer to win the three-game NL tie-breaker series 2–1.

 

 

MLB – 1951 – ESPN Classic’s Battle Lines – 1951 National League Tie-Breaker Playoff – Dodgers Vs Giants – With Bobby Tompson & “The Shot Heard Around The World”                                                                                                         

 

The Giants met the New York Yankees and Mays’s boyhood favorite DiMaggio in the 1951 World Series….which the Giants lost in six games.  In Game 1, Mays, Hank Thompson, and Monte Irvin comprised the first all-African-American outfield in major league history.  Mays hit poorly while the Giants lost the series 4–2.  In Game 5 he hit a consequential fly ball, which DiMaggio and Yankee rookie Mickey Mantle pursued. As DiMaggio called Mantle off, the younger Yankee got his cleat stuck in an open drainpipe, suffering a knee injury that would affect him the rest of his career.

 

 

MLB – 1951 – World Series Highlights – New York Yankees Vs New York Giants – Narrated By Lew Fonseca

 

Soon after the 1951 season ended, Mays learned the United States Army had drafted him to serve in the Korean War.  Before he left to join the Army, Mays played the 1st few weeks of the 1952 season with the Giants….when he batted .236 with four home runs in 34 games.  He surprised sportswriters like Red Smith when he drew cheers from fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Giants’ arch rivals, in his last game before reporting.

 

 

 MLB – 1951 – NY Giants Special – “The Story Of Willie Mays Being Called Up To The Majors” – As Told By Mgr Leo Durocher

 

After his induction into the Army on May 29th, Mays reported to Fort Eustis in Virginia, where he spent much of his time playing on military baseball teams with other major league players.  It was at Fort Eustis that Mays learned “the basket catch” from fellow Fort Eustis outfielder Jerry Salvador.  Mays missed about 266 games because of his military service.   Discharged on March 1, 1954, he reported to Giants’ spring training camp the following day.

 

 

MLB – 1989 – San Francisco Giants Special – Willie Mays Reflects On “The Catch” In Game 1 Of The 1954 World Series

 

Mays began the 1954 season on Opening Day with a home run of over 414 feet (126 m) against Carl Erskine…..then after he batted .250 in his first 20 games….Durocher moved him from 3rd to 5th in the batting order….and again encouraged him to stop attempting to pull the ball and try to get hits to right field….so, Mays changed his batting stance and stood straighter at the plate, keeping his feet closer together.  He credited these adjustments with improving his batting average, as he batted .450 with 25 RBI in his next 20 games.  On June 25, he hit an inside-the-park home run in a 6–2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.  Mays was selected for the NL All-Star team….which he would be part of 24 straight NL All-Star teams over 20 seasons.  Mays became the 1st player in history to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star Game…..as he had 36 home runs through July 28th…..and around that time, Durocher asked him to stop trying to hit them, explaining the team wanted him to reach base more often….to which Mays hit only five home runs after July 28th….but upped his batting average from .326 to .345 to win the team’s first batting title since Bill Terry’s in 1930…..while hitting 41 home runs….as Mays won the NL Most Valuable Player Award and the Hickok Belt.

 

 

MLB – 1951 To 1957 – MLB Vault Special – “The Legendary Life Of Willie Mays”                                                                                                                                     

 

The Giants won the NL pennant and the 1954 World Series….while sweeping the Cleveland Indians in four games.  The 1954 series is perhaps best remembered for “The Catch”….which was an over-the-shoulder running grab by Mays of a long drive off the bat of Vic Wertz about 425 feet (130 m) from home plate at the Polo Grounds during the 8th inning of Game 1…..as this play prevented two Indians’ runners from scoring…. preserving a tie game. “The Catch transcended baseball” Barra wrote, and Larry Schwartz of ESPN said of all the catches that Mays made, “it is regarded as his greatest”.  Mays did not even look at the ball for the last twenty feet as he ran, saying later he realized he had to keep running if he was going to get the ball.  The Giants won the game in the 10th inning on a three-run home run by Dusty Rhodes,,,,with Mays scoring the winning run.

 

 

MLB – 1954 – World Series Highlights – Cleveland Indians Vs New York Giants – Narrated By Jack Brickhouse

 

Mays added base stealing to his talents….while upping his total from eight in 1954 to 24 in 1955…..when in the middle of May, Durocher asked him to try for more home runs…..so, Mays led the league with 51 …..and finished 4th in NL MVP voting…..after leading the league with a .659 slugging percentage…. as Mays batted .319 as the Giants finished in 3rd.  During the last game of the season, Durocher, who had supported Mays since his career had begun, told him he would not be returning as the Giants manager….when Mays responded, “But Mr. Leo, it’s going to be different with you gone. You won’t be here to help me,”….to which Durocher told his star, “Willie Mays doesn’t need help from anyone.”  

 

 

MLB – 1962 – The All Star Game – National League Vs American League – Featuring Willie Mays Brilliant Outfield Play

 

From 1955 through 1958, Mays led Willie Mays’s All-Stars….which was a team composed of players like Irvin, Thompson, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Junior Gilliam, Brooks Lawrence, Sam Jones, and Joe Black in barnstorming tours of the southern United States following the MLB season.

 

 

MLB – 1965 – The All Star Game – National League Vs American League – Featuring Willie Mays Lead-Off Home Run

 

In 1956, Mays struggled at first to get along with new manager Bill Rigney…. who publicly criticized him…..as the center fielder grew particularly annoyed after Rigney fined him $100 for not running to 1st base on a pop fly that was caught by the catcher…..however, during that year he hit 36 homers and stole 40 bases….while becoming only the 2nd player to join the 30–30 club. Though his RBI total of 84 and his batting average of .296 were his lowest for nearly a decade, Barra observed that “Willie Mays was still the best all-around player in the National League.”  The relationship between Mays and Rigney improved in 1957…..as Rigney stopped giving Mays as much direction…..while trusting his star player’s ability and instinct.  In his 2010 authorized biography of Mays, James S. Hirsch wrote Mays had “one of his most exhilarating excursions” on April 21st in a game against the Phillies….as Mays reached 2nd base on an error….then stole third….and scored the winning run on a Hank Sauer single….which were all on plays close enough that he had to slide to make each one….then he stole home in a 4–3 loss to the Cubs on May 21.  The 1957 season was the 1st time that Gold Glove Awards were presented….as Mays won the 1st of 12 consecutive Gold Gloves for his play in center field….plus, he finished in the NL’s top-five in a variety of offensive categories…..which included being 3rd in runs scored with 112….2nd in batting average with .333….and 4th in home runs with 35….also, he became the 4th player in major league history to join the 20–20–20 club for doubles, triples, homers….and he stole 38 bases that year….which made him the 2nd member of the 20–20–20 club member (after Frank Schulte in 1911) to steal at least 20 bases. This gave him his 2nd straight 30-30 club season.

 

 

MLB – 1951 To 1973 – ESports Special Highlights – Willie Mays Career From His Rookie Year To His Last Two Years With The Mets

 

Dwindling attendance and the desire for a new ballpark prompted the Giants to move to San Francisco following the 1957 season.  In the final Giants’ home game at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957, fans gave Mays a standing ovation in the middle of his final at bat, after Pirates’ pitcher Bob Friend had already thrown a pitch to him. “I do not recall hearing another ovation given a man after the pitcher has started to work on him,” Mays biographer Arnold Hano wrote.

 

 

 MLB – 2012 – Special – “A New York Story:  The Polo Grounds”                                         

 

In 1958, Rigney wanted Mays to challenge Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season….so, consequently, Rigney did not play Mays much in spring training hoping to use his best hitter every day of the regular season….when as he had in 1954, Mays vied for the NL batting title until the final game of the season.  Moved to the leadoff slot the last day to increase his at-bats, Mays collected three hits in the game to finish with a career-high .347….but Philadelphia’s Richie Ashburn batted .350.  Mays shared the inaugural NL Player of the Month award with Stan Musial in May, batting .405 with 12 HR and 29 RBI…. then he won a 2nd award in September with .434, 4 HR, 18 RBIs….and he played in all but two games….while hitting only 29 home runs.

 

 

 News & MLB – 2011 – New York Times Sports Presents – “Willie May’s Harlem” – With Columnists William Rhoden

 

Horace Stoneham, the Giants’ owner, made Mays the highest-paid player in baseball with a $75,000 contract for 1959…..then The Say Hey Kid had his 1st serious injury from a collision with Sammy White in spring training that resulted in 35 stitches in his leg….but he was ready by the start of the season.   In the 1st All-Star Game of 1959, Mays hit a game-winning triple against Whitey Ford.  Against the Reds in August, Mays broke a finger but kept it a secret to prevent opposing pitchers from targeting it.   In September 1959, the Giants led the NL pennant race by two games with only eight games to play….but a sweep by the Dodgers began a stretch of six losses in those final games….which doomed them to a 3rd-place finish….and albeit Mays had hits in three out of 10 at-bats in the Dodger series…. but some San Francisco fans still booed him. In 1959, Mays batted .313 with 34 home runs and 113 RBIs, leading the league in stolen bases for the 4th year in a row.

 

 

MLB – 1954 – MLB.com Special – Willie Mays Talks About His Famous Catch In Game 1 Of The World Series Against The Cleveland Indians

 

After spending their first two years in San Francisco at Seals Stadium, the Giants moved into the new Candlestick Park in 1960. Initially, the stadium was expected to be conducive to home runs….but unpredictable winds affected Mays’s power….and he hit only 12 at home in 1960….plus, he found the stadium tricky to field but figured out how to play it as the season progressed.  When a fly ball was hit, he would count to five before giving pursuit, enabling him to judge the wind’s effect.  He hit two home runs on June 24th and stole home in a 5–3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.  On September 15th, he tied an NL record with three triples in an 11-inning, 8–6 win over the Phillies.  “I don’t like to talk about 1960,” Mays said after the final game of a season in which the Giants, pre-season favorites for the pennant, finished 5th out of eight NL teams….and for the 2nd time in three years, he only hit 29 home runs, but he led the NL with 190 hits and drove in 103 runs, batting .319 and stealing 25 bases.

 

 

 MLB – The 1960’s – Freedom Forum Special – “Willie Mays: The Best The 1960’s Had To Offer”                                                                                                                     

 

Alvin Dark was hired to manage the Giants before the start of the 1961 season….and the improving Giants finished in 3rd place….as  Mays had one of his best games on April 30th by hitting four home runs and driving in eight runs against the Milwaukee Braves at County Stadium….and according to Mays, he had been unsure if he would even play because of food poisoning…..while each of his home runs traveled over 400 feet (120 m)…..for this was while Mantle and Roger Maris pursued Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record in the AL….as Mays and Orlando Cepeda battled for the home run lead in the NL.  Mays trailed Cepeda by two home runs at the end of August with 34 as opposed to 36….but Cepeda outhit him 10–6 in September to finish with 46….as Mays finished with 40. Mays led the league with 129 runs scored and batted .308 with 123 RBI.

 

 

MLB – 1961 – San Francisco Giants Special Highlights – “Willie Mays Hits 4 HR’s Against The Braves”                                                                                                     

 

Even though he had continued to play at a high level since coming to San Francisco, Mays endured booing from the San Francisco fans during his 1st four seasons in California….as Barra speculates this may have been because San Francisco fans were comparing Mays unfavorably with Joe DiMaggio…. who was the most famous center fielder ever to come from San Francisco.  Hal Wood mentioned the DiMaggio theory….as well as two other explanations….with one being that the fans had heard so many wonderful things about Mays’s play in New York that they expected him to be a better player than he actually was….or because Mays tended to keep to himself.  Mays said in 1959 that he did not mind the booing….but he admitted in a 1961 article that the catcalls were bothering him….and for whatever the reason, the boos, which had begun to subside after Mays’s four-home run game in 1961, grew even quieter in 1962….as the Giants enjoyed their best season since moving to San Francisco….when Mays led the team in eight offensive categories in 1962….with runs scored at 130….doubles at 36….home runs at 49…..with 141 RBI’s…..18 stolen bases…..78  walks….with a .384 on-base percentage….and a slugging percentage of .613….as he finished 2nd in NL MVP voting to Maury Wills….who had broken Ty Cobb’s record for stolen bases in a season.  On September 30th, Mays hit a game-winning home run in the Giants’ final regularly scheduled game of the year….thus forcing the team into a tie for 1st place with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Giants faced the Dodgers in a three-game playoff series…. and with the Giants trailing 4–2 in the top of the 9th inning of Game 3….that is when Mays hit an RBI single….and eventually scoring as the Giants took a 6–4 lead….and with two outs in the bottom of the inning, Lee Walls hit a fly ball to center field…..which Mays caught for the final out as the Giants advanced to the World Series against the Yankees.  Mays had three hits in Game 1 of the World Series, a 6–2 loss to New York….but he would bat .250 in the series….which went all the way to a Game 7….when the Yankees led 1–0 in the bottom of the 9th….when Matty Alou led off the inning with a bunt single….but was still at first two outs later when Mays came up with the Giants one out from elimination.  Batting against Ralph Terry, he hit a ball into the right-field corner that might have been deep enough to score Alou….but Giants 3rd base coach Whitey Lockman opted to hold Alou at third….as the next batter, Willie McCovey, hit a line drive that was caught by Bobby Richardson….and the Yankees won the deciding game 1–0.  It was Mays’s last World Series appearance as a Giant.  Mays reveled in the fact that he had finally won the support of San Francisco fans saying “It only took them five years,” he later said.

 

 

TV Game Show & MLB – 1954 – What’s My Line With Mystery Guest Willie Mays – Panel Of Dorothy Kilgallen, Jack Paar, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf

 

Before the 1963 season, Mays signed a contract worth a record-setting $105,000 per season….which was equivalent to $887,592 in 2020.  On July 2nd, when Spahn and Juan Marichal each threw 15 scoreless innings, Mays hit a 16th-inning home run off Spahn, giving the Giants a 1–0 victory.  He considered the home run one of his most important….which was in addition to his first and the four-home-run game.  In the 1963 All-Star Game, he made the catch of the game, snagging his foot under a wire fence in center field but catching a long fly ball by Joe Pepitone that might have given the AL the lead….as the NL won 5–3….and Mays was named the All-Star Game MVP.  He won his 3rd NL Player of the Month Award in August, after batting .387 with 8 HR’s and 27 RBI’s.  In 1963, he batted .314 with 38 home runs and 103 RBI….while stealing only eight bases….as his fewest since 1954.

 

 

MLB – July 2nd – This Day In Baseball Special – Giants Juan Marichal Vs Braves Warren Spahn As Both Pitch 15 Scoreless Innings & Giants Willie Mays Hits Game Winning HR In 16th Inning

While normally batting 3rd in the lineup, Mays was moved to clean-up in 1964 before returning to 3rd in subsequent years.  On May 21st, Dark named Mays the Giants’ captain…. thus making Mays the 1st African-American captain of an MLB team. “You deserve it,” Dark told Mays. “You should have had it long before this.”  Ten days later, Mays played 33 innings in a doubleheader against the New York Mets….then on September 4th, he made what Hirsch called “one of the most acrobatic catches of his career”….as Ruben Amaro, Sr., hit a ball to the scoreboard at Philadelphia’s  Connie Mack Stadium….as Mays, who had been playing closer to home plate than normal, ran at top speed after the ball….when he caught it in midair….and had to kick his legs forward to keep his head from hitting the ballpark’s fence….but he held on to the ball. Albeit he batted under .300 (.296) for the 1st time since 1956….however hes still led the NL with 47 home runs….and ranked 2nd with 121 runs scored and 111 RBI.

 

MLB – 2021 – Famous Biographies – The Life And Career Of Willie Mays

 

From 1955 to 1964, Willie Mays and the Yankees Mickey Mantle were the two most dominant players in Major League Baseball….and there has been a continually running argument among baseball pundits and fans as to who was the best….so I am posting the only video that I have found that addresses this subject below….as it gives a fair analysis to support the belief that Mantle was in fact the better of the two during their prime years….plus it is important to remember that Mantle suffered a tremendous knee injury in his rookie season that affected his play for the rest of his career….and albeit The Mick was my all-time favorite baseball player….it is my opinion that trying to decide which one of these two legends of the game is like splitting hairs….for it is simply very difficult to do….but I thought the video was well worth the watch.                                                                                                    

MLB – 1955 To 1964 – Special – Mickey Mantle Vs Willie Mays                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

A torn shoulder muscle sustained in a 1965 game against the Atlanta Braves impaired Mays’s ability to throw….but he kept the injury a secret from opposing players….while making two or three practice throws before games to discourage them from running on him.  On August 22nd, Mays acted as a peacemaker during a 14-minute brawl between the Giants and Dodgers after Marichal had bloodied Dodgers catcher John Roseboro with a bat….as Mays grabbed Roseboro by the waist and helped him off the field….then he tackled Lou Johnson to keep him from attacking an umpire….as Johnson kicked him in the head….and nearly knocked him out….whereby after the brawl, Mays hit a game-winning three-run home run against Sandy Koufax….but after feeling dizzy after the HR, he did not finish the game.  The Say Hey Kid won his 4th and final NL Player of the Month award in August 1965 (.363, 17 HR, 29 RBI)…..then on September 13, 1965, he hit his 500th career home run off Don Nottebart…. when Warren Spahn, off whom Mays hit his 1st career home run, was now his teammate asked him, “Was it anything like the same feeling?”…..to which Mays replied, “It was exactly the same feeling. Same pitch, too.” ….then the next night, Mays hit one that he considered his most dramatic….for with the Giants trailing the Houston Astros by two runs with two outs in the ninth, Mays swung and missed at Claude Raymond’s 1st two pitches….then took three balls to load the count….and fouled off three pitches before homering on the 9th pitch….as the Giants won 6–5 in 10 innings.  Willie Mays won his second MVP award in 1965 behind a career-high 52 home runs, in what Barra said “may very well have [been] his best year”….when he batted .317….while leading the NL in on-base percentage at .400 and slugging percentage at .645.  The span of 11 years between his MVP awards was the longest gap of any major league player who attained the distinction more than once….as were the 10 years between his 50 home run seasons.  He scored 118 runs for the 12th year in a row he had scored at least 100 runs in a season.

 

 

MLB – May 4, 1966 – Special Highlight – Giants Willie Mays Slams His 512th Home Run To Set A New NL All-Time Home Run Record

 

Mays tied Mel Ott’s NL record of 511 home runs on April 24, 1966 against the Astros…. when after that, he went for nine days without a home run….as Mays explained the slump by saying “I started thinking home run every time I got up.”….as he finally set the record May 4th.  Despite nursing an injured thigh muscle on September 7th, Mays reached base in the 11th inning of a game against the Dodgers with two outs….then attempted to score from 1B on a Frank Johnson single….when on a close play, umpire Tony Venzon initially ruled him out….then changed the call when he saw Roseboro had dropped the ball after Mays collided with him….as San Francisco won 3–2.  Mays finished 3rd in the NL MVP voting….which was the 9th and final time he finished in the top five in the voting for the award.  He batted .288 with 99 runs scored, 37 home runs and 103 RBI….when by season’s end, only Babe Ruth had hit more home runs (714 to 542).

 

 

MLB & TV Variety Show – 1966 – The Ed Sullivan Show – With Guest Willie Mays Providing Hitting Tips

 

Mays had 13 home runs and 44 RBI through his first 75 games of 1967 but then went into a slump….then on June 7, Gary Nolan of the Cincinnati Reds struck him out four times…. which was the 1st time in his career this had happened…although the Giants still won the game 4–3.  Afflicted by a fever on July 14, Mays left that day’s game after the 6th inning because of fatigue and spent five days in a hospital. “After I got back into the lineup, I never felt strong again for the rest of the season,” he recalled.  In 141 games, Mays hit .263 with 83 runs scored, 128 hits, and 22 home runs….and he had only 70 RBI for the year….which was the 1st time since 1958 he had failed to reach 100.

 

 

MLB – 1950’s & 1960’s – Special Interview – Yankees HOF Pitcher Whitey Ford Talks About The Talent Of Willie Mays

 

Before a game in Houston on May 6, 1968, the Astro’s owner Roy Hofheinz presented Mays with a 569-pound birthday cake for his 37th birthday….as the pounds represented every home run Mays had hit in his career. After sharing some of it with his teammates, Mays sent the rest to the Texas Children’s Hospital.  Mays led off the 1968 All-Star Game with a single, moved to second on an error, advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and scored the only run of the game when McCovey hit into a double play.  His performance earned him his 2nd All-Star Game MVP Award.  Mays played 148 games and upped his batting average to .289, accumulating 84 runs scored, 144 hits, 23 home runs, and 79 RBI.  In 1969, new Giants’ manager Clyde King moved Mays to the lead-off position in the batting lineup because Mays was hitting fewer home runs.  Mays privately chafed at the move, later comparing it to “O. J. Simpson blocking for the fullback”…..then he injured his knee in a collision with catcher Randy Hundley on July 29th….which forced him to miss several games….then on September 22nd, he hit his 600th home run, saying later, “Winning the game was more important to me than any individual achievements.”  In 117 games, he batted .283 with 13 home runs and 58 RBI.

 

 

MLB – July 18, 1970 – MLB Special Highlight – Giants Willie Mays Becomes 10th Member Of The 3,000 Hit Club

 

The Sporting News named Mays the 1960’s “Player of the Decade” in January 1970.  In an April game, Mays collided with Bobby Bonds while reaching his glove over the wall but made a catch to rob Bobby Tolan of a home run.  Mays picked up his 3,000th hit against the Montreal Expos on July 18th.  “I don’t feel excitement about this now,” he told reporters afterwards. “The main thing I wanted to do was help Gaylord Perry win a game.”  In 139 games, Mays batted .291 with 94 runs scored, 28 home runs, and 83 RBI.  He scheduled his off days that season to avoid facing pitchers like Bob Gibson or Tom Seaver.

 

 

MLB – 1963 – San Francisco Giants Special – “Charlie Einstein Interviews Willie Mays As He Rides To Candlestick Park For The Night’s Game”                             

 

Albeit center field remained Say Hey‘s primary position in 1971, Mays played 48 games at 1B….as he got off to a fast start in 1971….which was the year he turned 40. Against the Mets on May 31st, he hit a game-tying 8th-inning home run….saved multiple runs with his defense at first base….and performed a strategic base-running maneuver with one out in the 11th inning….while running slowly from 2nd to 3rd base to draw a throw from Tim Foli and allow Al Gallagher to reach 1st safely….then evading Foli’s tag on the return throw to 3rd….as Mays scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly.  He had 15 home runs and a .290 average at the All-Star break but faded down the stretch….while only hitting three home runs and batting .241 for the rest of the year.  One reason he hit so few home runs was that Mays walked 112 times…. which was 30 more times than he had at any point in his career….which was partly because Willie McCovey, who often batted behind Mays in the lineup, missed several games with injuries….thus causing pitchers to pitch carefully to Mays so they could concentrate on getting less-skilled hitters out….therefore Mays led the league in on-base percentage (.425) for only the 2nd time….although his 123 strikeouts were a career-high.  He batted .271 and stole 23 bases….as the Giants won the NL West in 1971….while returning Mays to the playoffs for the 1st time since 1962.  In the NL Championship Series (NLCS) against the Pirates, Mays had a home run and three RBI in the first two games….then in Game 3, Mays attempted an unsuccessful sacrifice bunt in a 1–1 tie in the 6th with no outs and Tito Fuentes on second base….as the Giants lost 2–1. “I was thinking of the best way to get the run in,” Mays explained the bunt….while pointing out that McCovey and Bonds were due up next. The Giants lost the series in four games.

 

 

 MLB – 1971 – San Francisco Giants Highlights – Footage Of Willie Mays

 

Mays got off to a tortuous start to the 1972 season….while batting .184 through his first 19 games. Before the season began, he had asked Stoneham for a 10-year contract with the Giants organization….as he intended to serve in an off-the-field capacity with them once his playing career was over….but the Giants organization was having financial troubles….and Mays had to settle for a two-year, $330,000 contract.  Mays quibbled with manager Charlie Fox, leaving the stadium before the start of a doubleheader on April 30th without telling him….then on May 5th, Mays was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Charlie Williams and an undisclosed amount rumored to be $100,000.  The Mets agreed to keep his salary at $165,000 a year for 1972 and 1973, promising to pay Mays $50,000 a year for 10 years after he retired….as Mays had remained popular in New York….and owner Joan Payson had long wanted to bring him back to his major league roots.  In his Mets debut against the Giants on May 14th, Mays put New York ahead to stay with a 5th-inning home run….while receiving ecstatic applause from the fans at Shea Stadium.  Mays appeared in 88 games for the Mets in 1972, batting .250 in 244 at bats with eight home runs.

 

 

MLB – 1972 – WHN New York Radiocast – Willie Mays Hits His First Home Run For the Mets – With Lindsey Nelson On The Call

 

In 1973, Mays showed up a day late to spring training, then left in the middle of it without notifying manager Yogi Berra beforehand. He was fined $1,000 upon returning as a sportswriter joked half the fine was for leaving, half was for returning.  Things did not improve as the season began….as Mays spent time on the disabled list early in the year and left the park before a game when he found out Berra had not put his name in the starting lineup….for his speed and powerful arm in the outfield, assets throughout his career, were diminished in 1973….and he only made the All-Star team because of a special intervention by NL President Chub Feeney.  On August 17, 1973, Mays hit his final (660th) home run against the Reds’ Don Gullett.  Having considered retirement all year, Mays finally told the Mets officially on September 9th that 1973 would be his last season.  He made the announcement to the public on September 20th saying “I thought I’d be crying by now,”….as he told reporters and Mets’ executives at a press conference that day, “but I see so many people here who are my friends, I can’t…Baseball and me, we had what you might call a love affair.”  Five days later, the Mets honored him on Willie Mays Day, proclaimed by New York City mayor John Lindsay….where he thanked the New York fans and said goodbye to baseball.  In 66 games, Mays batted a career-low .211 with six home runs…..however, the Mets won the NL East….then against the Reds in the NLCS, Mays helped restore order in Game 3 after Mets fans began throwing trash at Pete Rose following a brawl Rose had started.  Game 5 was the only one Mays played….as he had a pinch-hit RBI single as the Mets won 7–2, clinching a trip to the 1973 World Series against the Oakland Athletics.  A shoulder injury to Rusty Staub  prompted the Mets to shift Don Hahn to right field and start Mays in center at the start of the Series.  He stumbled four times in the first two games, including a fielding error in Game 2 that allowed the Athletics to tie the game and force extra innings….as Mays’s last career hit came later in the same game….which was an RBI single against Rollie Fingers that snapped a 7–7 tie in the 12th inning of a 10–7 victory.  His final at-bat came in Game 3….when he pinch-hit for Tug McGraw and grounded into a force play….and the Mets lost the Series in seven games.

 

 

MLB – 2019 – Special – Comedian Jim Breuer Interviews Willie Mays – On Coming From The Giants To The Mets

 

The batting stance Mays employed showed the influence of one of his childhood favorites, DiMaggio. Like his hero, Mays would stand with his legs spread apart, placing the same amount of weight on both while holding the bat high. His right thumb would stick out in the air as he waited for pitches, but he wrapped it around the bat as he swung. Mays believed this late motion added power when he swung.  Mays channeled his energies into the swing by abstaining from extra motion and opening his hips. “If there was a machine to measure each swing of a bat,” Branch Rickey suggested, “it would be proven that Mays swings with more power and bat speed, pitch for pitch, than any other player.”  His focus extended to his antics, or lack thereof, at the plate….for Mays did not rub dirt on his hands or stroll around the batter’s box like some hitters did….and since Mays was naturally more of a pull hitter, he adjusted his style in 1954 to hit more to right and center field in a quest for a higher batting average at his manager’s request…. but the change was not permanent.  When the Giants moved to Candlestick Park, Mays found that pulling the ball worked better at home….but hitting to right and center worked better on the road….as he tried to adjust his style depending on where he was playing.

 

MLB -1886 – San Francisco Giants Special – “Hitting Tips From Willie Mays”           

 

Defensively, Mays was one of the best outfielders of all time, as evidenced by his record 12 Gold Gloves as an outfielder.  His signature play was his “basket catch,” the technique that was on display when he made “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series….while  holding  his glove around his belly, he would keep his palm turned up, enabling the ball to fall right into his glove.  Sportswriters have argued about whether the technique made him a better fielder or just made him more exciting to watch…..but regardless of which, the basket catch did not prevent Mays from setting a record with 7,095 outfield putouts.  Koppett observes, “His range was limitless, and his arm so strong that he could make effective throws from the most unlikely locations and from the most unlikely body positions.”….for it was that range which allowed him to play a shallow center and prevent shallow singles….while still being able to get back and not let extra-base hits get over his head.  Mays’s flashy style of play stemmed partly from his days in the Negro leagues. “We were all entertainers,” he said, “and my job was to give the fans something to talk about each game.”  He wore his cap one size larger than necessary so that it would fly off when he was running the bases or making fielding plays….and often times he would deliberately slip to the ground for catches to make them look tougher than they really were.  Though he was a powerful hitter, he had a knack for stealing bases….as he ran the bases daringly….while becoming the only modern player to score from first base on a single to left field….and another time scoring from first base on a McCovey bunt….which happened without an error.

 

 

 MLB – 1986 – Special – Hall Of Fame Sportscasters Ernie Harwell + Jack Buck + Curt Gowdy + Red Barber + Jack Brickhouse Talk About Willie Mays

 

On January 23, 1979, Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 1st year of eligibility….as he garnered 409 of the 432 ballots cast (94.68%).  Referring to the other 23 voters, the acerbic New York Daily News columnist  Dick Young wrote, “If Jesus Christ were to show up with his old baseball glove, some guys wouldn’t vote for him.  He dropped the cross three times, didn’t he?”  In his induction speech, Mays said, “What can I say? This country is made up of a great many things. You can grow up to be what you want. I chose baseball, and I loved every minute of it. I give you one word—love. It means dedication. You have to sacrifice many things to play baseball. I sacrificed a bad marriage and I sacrificed a good marriage. But I’m here today because baseball is my number one love.”  In 1999, Mays placed second on The Sporting Newss “List of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players”…. while trailing only Babe Ruth.  Later that year, fans elected him to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.  Fellow players and coaches recognized his talent. “To me, Willie Mays is the greatest who ever played,” Roberto Clemente said.  Willie Stargell learned the hard way how good Mays’s arm was when the center fielder threw him out in a game in 1965. “I couldn’t believe Mays could throw that far. I figured there had to be a relay. Then I found out there wasn’t. He’s too good for this world.”  Leo Durocher said of Willie…“If somebody came up and hit .450, stole 100 bases and performed a miracle in the field every day, I’d still look you in the eye and say Willie was better.”….and Branch Rigney’s assessment was “All I can say is that he is the greatest player I ever saw, bar none.”  When Mays was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979, Duke Snider, who finished 2nd in voting that year, said, “Willie really more or less deserves to be in by himself.”  Don Zimmer remarked, “In the National League in the 1950’s, there were two opposing players who stood out over all the others — Stan Musial and Willie Mays. … I’ve always said that Willie Mays was the best player I ever saw. … [H]e could have been an All-Star at any position.”  Teammate Felipe Alou said, “[Mays] is number one, without a doubt. … [A]nyone who played with him or against him would agree that he is the best.”  Al Rosen remembered “…you had the feeling you were playing against someone who was going to be the greatest of all time.”

 

 

MLB – 1951 To 1973 – ESports Highlights – “Career Highlights Of Say Hey Willie Mays”                                                                                                                        

 

Throughout his career, Mays maintained he did not specifically try to set records, but he ranks among baseball’s leaders in many categories….as he was 3rd in home runs with 660 when he retired….and he still ranks 6th as of May 2021….while his 2,062 runs scored rank 7th….and his 1,903 RBI rank 12th….plus Mays batted .302 in his career….and his 3,283 hits are the 12th-most of any player.  His 2,992 games played are the 9th-highest total of any major league player.  He stole 338 bases in his career.  By the end of his career, Mays had won a Gold Glove Award 12 times…. which is a record shared with Roberto Clemente for outfielders still today.  He is baseball’s all-time leader in outfield putouts with 7,095….and he played 2,842 games as an outfielder….which is a total exceeded only by Ty Cobb with 2,934 and Barry Bonds with 2,874.  Mays’s 24 appearances on an All-Star Game roster are tied with Musial for 2nd all-time, behind only Hank Aaron’s 25.  He holds individually the All-Star Game records for most at bats at 75, hits at 23, runs scored at 20 and stolen bases at 6….and additionally, he is tied with Musial for the most extra-base hits with 8 and total bases at 40….plus he is tied with Brooks Robinson for the most triples with 3 in All-Star Game history.  Mays’s 156.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ranks 5th all-time….and 3rd among position players, while trailing Barry Bonds’s with 162.8 and Babe Ruth’s with 162.1.  He led NL position players in WAR for 10 seasons….and led the league in on-base plus slugging (OPS) five times….while ranking 26th all time with a .941 mark.  Sabermetrician Bill James thinks Mays was the best center fielder of all time….while naming him the best in the major leagues in the 1950’s and the 1960’s.  David Schoenfield of ESPN, James, and Barra each think he should have won the NL MVP Award at least seven times.  “He was one of the best fielders of all time,” Schoenfield writes, noting Mays has the 8th-most fielding runs saved (a sabermetric stat) of all-time.  Barra claimed in 2004, “Most modern fans would pick Willie Mays as the best all-around player in the second half of the twentieth century.”  Sportscaster Curt Gowdy said of Mays, “Willie Mays was the best player I ever saw. He did everything well.”

 

 

MLB – 1964 – All Star Game Highlights – National League Vs American League – Featuring Willie Mays Scoring 1st Run Of The Game

 

Sudden collapses plagued Mays sporadically throughout his career, which occasionally led to hospital stays….which he attributed to his style of play. “My style was always to go all out, whether I played four innings or nine. That’s how I played all my life, and I think that’s the reason I would suddenly collapse from exhaustion or nervous energy or whatever it was called.”

 

 

MLB – 1960 – Home Run Derby – Yanks Mickey Mantle Vs Giants Willie Mays

 

Along with Mantle (of the Yankees) and Snider (of the Dodgers), Mays was part of a triumvirate of center fielders from the New York teams of the 1950’s who would be elected to the Hall of Fame.  The three were often the subject of debates among the New York fans as to who was the best center fielder in the city.  Mays was also a popular figure in Harlem, New York’s predominantly African-American neighborhood and the home of the Polo Grounds….as magazine photographers were fond of chronicling his participation in local stickball games with kids….which he played two to three nights a week during homestands until his first marriage in 1956.  In the urban game of hitting a rubber ball with an adapted broomstick handle, Mays could hit a shot that measured “five sewers” (the distance of six consecutive New York City manhole covers, nearly 450 feet (140 m).

 

 

MLB – 2021 – MLB Network Special – “Stickball And Ice Cream With The Say Hey Kid Willie Mays                                                                                                            

 

Unlike other black athletes like Jackie Robinson, Mays tended to remain silent on race issues, refraining from public complaints about discriminatory practices that affected him….as his approach had its critics….for Robinson once accused him and some of his teammates of not doing enough for the civil rights movement….and Aaron wished Mays had spoken out more on racial issues….but Mays believed his job was to play baseball, not talk about social issues. “I’m a ballplayer. I am not a politician or a writer or a historian. I can do best for my people by doing what I do best.”

 

 

MLB – August 17th – This Day In Baseball History Special – Featuring Willie Mays Hits His 660 HR + Other Great Accomplishments On This Day

 

After Mays retired as a player, he remained in the New York Mets organization as their hitting instructor until the end of the 1979 season.  Mays missed several appointments during these years and was often absent from Mets games….and when Joe McDonald became the Mets’ General Manager in 1975, he threatened to fire Mays for this….as  Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Mays’s lawyer intervened….and the Mets agreed to keep him, as long as he stayed at home games for at least four innings.  During his time with the Mets, Lee Mazzilli learned the basket catch from him.

 

 

MLB – 2017 – Dodger Blue Special – Broadcasting Legend Vin Scully Meets Willie Mays At AT&T Park

 

In October 1979, Mays took a job at the Bally’s Park Place casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey….and while there, he served as a special assistant to the Casino’s president and as a greeter.  After being told by Kuhn that he could not be part of both baseball and a casino, Mays terminated his contract with the Mets….and he was banned from baseball….as Kuhn was concerned about gambling infiltrating baseball….but Hirsch points out that Mays’s role was merely as a greeter….for he was not allowed to place bets at the casino as part of his contract….and the casino did not engage in sports betting.  In 1985, less than a year after replacing Kuhn as commissioner, Peter Ueberroth decided to allow Mays to return to baseball.  At a press conference with Mays and Mantle (reinstated from a similar suspension), Ueberroth said, “I am bringing back two players who are more a part of baseball than perhaps anyone else.”…. when Mays was named special assistant to the president and general manager of the Giants in 1986….as he signed a lifetime contract with the team in 1993….and helped to muster public enthusiasm for building Pac Bell Park, which opened in 2000.  Mays founded a charity, the Say Hey Foundation, which promotes youth baseball.  The Giants retired Mays’ number 24 in May 1972….and their stadium, Oracle Park, resides at 24 Willie Mays Plaza….and in front of the main entrance is a nine-foot-tall statue of Mays…. who has a private box at the stadium.

 

 

MLB – 1951 To 1973 – Willie Mays Tribute – With Career Highlights + Greatest Plays + Greatest Games

 

Mays has met with United States Presidents. During Gerald Ford’s administration in 1976, he was invited to the White House state dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth II, whom Mays met.  He was the Tee Ball Commissioner at the 2006 White House Tee Ball Initiative on July 30, 2006, during George W. Bush’s presidency.  On July 14, 2009, he accompanied Barack Obama to St. Louis aboard Air Force One for that year’s All-Star Game.  Six years later, Obama honored Mays with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In September 2017, Major League Baseball renamed the World Series MVP Award the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award.                                  

MLB & Talk Show – 2021 – Mike Greenberg Celebrates Willie Mays 90th Birthday With 5 Stats You Need To Know About The Say Hey Kid

 

Mays appeared in both film and television….as he made multiple appearances as the mystery guest on the long-running game show What’s My Line?….and through a friendship with Tony Owen and Donna Reed, he was able to appear in three episodes of The Donna Reed Show.  During the 1960’s, he appeared on shows including The Dating Game and Bewitched.  NBC-TV aired an hour-long documentary titled A Man Named Mays in 1963….which told the story of the ballplayer’s life.  In 1972, Mays voiced himself in the animated fictional special Willie Mays and the Say-Hey Kid….which was produced by Rankin/Bass Productions.  Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts mentioned Mays numerous times.

 

 

 MLB – 1964 – NBC Sports Special – “A Man Named Mays”                                       

 

Many popular songs reference Mays…..as The Treniers recorded the most famous one “Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)” in 1954….with Mays himself participating in the recording. John Fogerty’s song “Centerfield” is often played at major and minor league stadiums…. as it mentions Mays, Cobb, and DiMaggio. Others mentioning him include “I Shall Be Free” by Bob Dylan….and of course, the ever popular “Talkin’ Baseball” by Terry Cashman….which has been inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame….and “Willie Mays is Up at Bat” by Chuck Prophet.

 

 

Music & MLB – 1954 – The Treniers – “Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)

 

 

Music & MLB – 1985 – John Fogerty – “Centerfield”

 

 

Music & MLB – 1982 – Terry Cashman – “Talkin’ Baseball With Willie, Mickey and The Duke”

 

 

Music & MLB – 2012 – Chuck Prophet – “Willie Mays Is Up To Bat”                               

 

Mays married Marghuerite Wendell Chapman  in 1956….and the couple adopted a five-day-old baby named Michael in 1959….then they separated in 1962 and divorced in 1963….with Marghuerite taking Michael for the majority of the time.  Eight years later, Mays married Mae Louise Allen, a child-welfare worker in San Francisco….as Wilt Chamberlain had given Mays her number in 1961….and they dated off and on the next several years.  In 1997, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease…. and Willie cared for her devotedly until she died from it on April 19, 2013.  Mays is the godfather of Barry Bonds….whose father was a friend of his when they were Giants teammates.  Glaucoma forced Mays to stop driving a car and playing golf after 2005.  Willie Mays is currently 90 years old and resides at his home in Atherton, CA.

 

 

MLB – 2021 – MLB Network Special Salute To Willie Mays On His 90th Birthday  – With Harold Reynolds

 

As I come to the end of this story about a true American icon….who is the last living legend from The Golden Age Of Baseball….when baseball was the move popular sport on the planet….in an era that created more legends of the game than in any other era of the sport….and The Say Hey Kid  is at the top of this “ladder of legends”

 

 

 MLB – 1951 To 1973 – Special – “What The Great MLB Players Who Played Against Willie Mays Thought Of Him”

 

 

MLB – 2014 – San Francisco Giants Special – “Willie Mays Throws Last Pitch At Candlestick Park”                                                                                                        

 

MLB – 1975 – Academy Of Achievement Class Of 1975 – Interview With Willie Mays

 

 

 

 

 

 

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