how good was willie mays
[134] Mays, however, reveled in the fact that he had finally won the support of San Francisco fans; "It only took them five years," he later said. Which, you know, actually happened. [95] In the final Giants home game at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957, the 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. Are you a Stathead, too? On the basketball team, he helped Fairfield Industrial reach a state championship game in 1946 as a sophomore, leading players at all-black high schools in Jefferson County in scoring. The improving Giants finished 1961 in third place and won 85 games, more than any of the previous six campaigns. [224][228] 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; for his contributions, Mays won the All-Star Game MVP Award for the second time. @heysooze: In the 90’s I once drove behind a gold Mercedes with Say Hey license plates on NB101 in Redwood City. Here’s a Top 10 list of Mays marvels culled from his extensive collection of feats: Mays was concluding only his second full big league season, but he already assured himself of baseball immortality with his spectacular game-saving catch in the Giants’ 1954 World Series opener against the Cleveland Indians. "[267] Sportscaster Curt Gowdy said of Mays, "Willie Mays was the best player I ever saw. [75] Holding his glove around his belly, he would keep his palm turned up, enabling the ball to fall right into his glove. Willie Mays thrived partly by turning imagination into reality. @Vegas1946: He broke my heart with “the catch”. “Maybe 70,” Mays replied. [48] His 2,992 games played are the ninth-highest total of any major leaguer. So I didn't feel concerned about racial tensions in my neighborhood once the [1958] season was about to start. when he greeted someone. "The main thing I wanted to do was help Gaylord Perry win a game. "[144] The move made Mays the first African-American captain of an MLB team. Same pitch, too. Our reasoning for presenting offensive logos. In 35 games, Mays batted .477. Man, did the writers love Dick Groat or what? He added base stealing to his talents, upping his total from eight in 1954 to 24 in 1955. [63] Mays batted .450 with 25 RBI in his next 20 games. @DebiSocal: I met Mays & “stretch” McCovey when the Stanford Mall dugout store opened many years ago. … [P]laying against him, you had the feeling you were playing against someone who was going to be the greatest of all time. [355][356], Unlike black athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Mays tended to remain silent on race issues, refraining from public complaints about discriminatory practices that affected him, such as segregated housing. Mays's autobiography records the conversation slightly differently. [60][61] Following the Korean War, the Congressional Armed Services Defenses Subcommittee investigated the military records of ten athletes who had been drafted into the service, and a Congressional report dated July 22 determined that the athletes were "pampered" or "coddled" while in uniform. [214] A shoulder injury to Rusty Staub prompted the Mets to shift Don Hahn to right field and start Mays in center for the first game of the Series. [173] He played 148 games and upped his batting average to .289, accumulating 84 runs scored, 144 hits, 23 home runs, and 79 RBI. He shattered, pulverized and obliterated it by clobbering a homer that Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges, who had witnessed all of Mays’ 366 lifetime round-trippers, described as one of the longest the slugger had ever hit. In 2009, the foundation donated $50,000 in equipment to young players around the Birmingham area. 9.Because, yes, he’s better than Babe Ruth. [295] On July 14, 2009, he accompanied President Barack Obama to St. Louis aboard Air Force One for that year's All-Star Game. [127][126] 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. They ultimately prevailed in 10 innings, 5-2, to launch their four-game World Series sweep. "[359], Mays took up golf a few years after his promotion to the major leagues and quickly became an accomplished player, playing to a handicap of about nine. He was always nice and willing to talk to us kids! Little did I know that after outfield warm-ups Willie always threw the ball into the bleachers. "To me, Willie Mays is the greatest who ever played," Clemente said. Mays had hits in three out of 10 at bats in the Dodger series but was still booed by some of the San Francisco fans. [36] He also won his fourth and final NL Player of the Month award in August (.363, 17 HR, 29 RBI), while setting the NL record for most home runs in the month of August (since tied by Sammy Sosa in 2001). At the same time, Mays continued to finish in the National League's top-five in a variety of offensive categories. The Giants owned an 11-game winning streak and a 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place Dodgers in the NL pennant race as this day began. [180] Against the Montreal Expos on July 18, Mays picked up his 3,000th hit, a second-inning single against Mike Wegener. McCovey was hurt and we had Bonds for power. There's more than just sentimentality in this selection. [300] On May 15, 2010, Mays was awarded the Major League Baseball Beacon of Life Award prior to MLB's annual Civil Rights Game, held at Great American Ball Park in 2010. Over 10 percent of Mays’ career plate appearances came against Hall of Famers. In the movies Major League and Major League II, the center fielder for the Cleveland Indians is named Willie Mays Hayes. [137] On July 2, when the Giants played the Braves, future Hall of Famers Spahn and Juan Marichal each threw 15 scoreless innings. His final Major League Baseball appearance came on October 16 during Game 3 of the 1973 World Series. @DardHunter1: Nothing to make your list, per se. [49] Mays was in the on-deck circle on October 3 when Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard 'Round the World against Ralph Branca and the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the three-game NL tie-breaker series 2–1. The Giants’ 2-1 victory forced the playoff they wanted against the Dodgers, who lost to St. Louis, 1-0. Because he was one of the best fielders of all time. [56][57] It was at Fort Eustis that Mays learned the basket catch from a fellow Fort Eustis outfielder, Al Fortunato. Magazine photographers were fond of chronicling his participation in local stickball games with kids. After the home run, Spahn greeted Mays in the dugout, asking "Was it anything like the same feeling?" “I would go home at night and create what I was going to do the next day,” Mays told in a 2008 interview. [18] A number of major league baseball franchises sent scouts to watch him play. Mays’ grab -- which, exclaimed broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, “must have been an optical illusion to a lot of people” -- enabled the Giants to preserve a 2-2 tie. ", 1956 Willie Mays Major League Negro-American All-Stars Tour, Sportsdata. The Giants needed another uprising in Game 7 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, who clung to a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning. We were watching the Giants throw the ball around the infield and outfield as Bobby Bolin warmed up before the start of the game. Trailing the Dodgers, 4-2, the Giants rallied to score four ninth-inning runs in a 6-4 triumph that gave them their first West Coast pennant. "I do not recall hearing another ovation given a man after the pitcher has started to work on him," Mays biographer Arnold Hano wrote. Do we really think nine of the 20 greatest players of all time began their careers before 1930 ... but only two have debuted in the past 30 years? The stories he told me as a kid in the 80s left me with the same awe of him that my dad must have felt as a kid who couldn’t play the game he loved. Personal life. On May 15, 2010, Mays was awarded the Major League Baseball Beacon of Life Award at the Civil Rights game at Great American Ball Park. [36] Minneapolis fans were so disappointed about their team losing Mays, Giants owner Horace Stoneham took out a four-column advertisement in the Minneapolis Tribune explaining that Mays's strong play entitled him to a promotion and that New York would keep trying to give Minneapolis players that would help the team win. The span of 11 years between his MVP awards was the longest gap of any major leaguer who attained the distinction more than once, as were the 10 years between his 50 home run seasons. [135] It was Mays's last World Series appearance as a member of the Giants. I was hoping to witness a Mays home run, and he came through with a dramatic inside-the-park job in the first inning. [240] 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. It goes without saying that Willie was one of the very best players in history, an "inner circle" Hall of Famer. With the Giants trailing the Astros by two runs with two outs in the ninth, Mays swung and missed at the first two pitches, took three balls to load the count, and fouled off three pitches before hitting the tying home run off Claude Raymond on the ninth pitch of the at bat. [148] On April 14, against Jim Bunning of the Phillies, he hit his 455th home run, putting him ahead of Mantle in home runs for the first time in his career. San Francisco won 3–2. New York / San Francisco Giants retired numbers, List of Major League Baseball home run records, List of Major League Baseball career home run leaders, List of Major League Baseball career hits leaders, List of Major League Baseball career doubles leaders, List of Major League Baseball career triples leaders, List of Major League Baseball career runs scored leaders, List of Major League Baseball career runs batted in leaders, List of Major League Baseball career stolen bases leaders, List of Major League Baseball batting champions, List of Major League Baseball annual home run leaders, List of Major League Baseball annual runs scored leaders, List of Major League Baseball annual stolen base leaders, List of Major League Baseball annual triples leaders, List of Major League Baseball single-game home run leaders, "New film remembers long-gone West Jefferson community of Westfield, home of Mays, Clemon", "Mays at 75: The Say-Hey Kid has lots of fond memories, few regrets", "Baseball Great and the Fort Eustis Connection", "Chicago Cubs at New York Giants Box Score, June 25, 1954", "Players with at least 30 HR by All-Star Game", "New York Giants at Chicago Cubs Box Score, May 21, 1957", "St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants Box Score, September 28, 1958", "San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds Box Score, June 24, 1960", "San Francisco Giants at Philadelphia Phillies Box Score, September 15, 1960", "San Francisco Giants Team History & Encyclopedia", "San Francisco Giants 14, Milwaukee Braves 4", "Willie Mays Finally Has Love of San Francisco Giants Fans", "Willie Mays Says Watch Pirates Next Season", "1962 San Francisco Giants Batting Statistics", "Houston Colt .45s at San Francisco Giants Box Score, September 30, 1962", "Willie Mays Postseason Batting Gamelogs", "July 2, 1963 Milwaukee Braves at San Francisco Giants Box Score and Play by Play", "San Francisco Giants at New York Mets Box Score, May 31, 1964", "Letting Off Steam – confrontations between players, fans and umpires", "Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants Box Score, August 22, 1965", "Juan Marichal clubbed John Roseboro 50 years ago in ugly, iconic incident", "San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros Box Score, September 14, 1965", "A complete list of every 50-homer season", "San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers Box Score, September 7, 1966", "They Wuz Robbed: Tales of Head-Scratching MVP Voting", "San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds Box Score, June 7, 1967", "Houston Astros at San Francisco Giants Box Score, July 14, 1967", "Mays Honored as Top Player of 1960s by Sporting News", "Montreal Expos at San Francisco Giants Box Score, July 18, 1970", "New York Mets at San Francisco Giants Box Score, May 31, 1971", "1972 NL Awards, All-Stars and Other Leaders", "Turn back the clock: Willie Mays played a vital role on '73 mets", "Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets Box Score, August 17, 1973", "1973 World Series Game 2, Mets at Athletics, October 14", "Thoughts on Willie Mays stumbling around the outfield", "1973 World Series Game 3, Athletics at Mets, October 16", "All-Star Game Records: Career All-Star Game Hitting Records", "Selig Still Won't Commit to Witnessing History", "Ten Reasons Willie Mays is the Greatest Ever", "Willie Mays: The Greatest Ballplayer of All-Time", "100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac", Don Zimmer, Who Spent 60 Eventful Years in Baseball, Dies at 83, "Progressive Leaders & Records for Power-Speed #", "Career Leaders & Records for Def.


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