how good was willie mays
3. The 1954 series is perhaps best remembered for "The Catch", an over-the-shoulder running grab by Mays in deep center field of the Polo Grounds of a long drive off the bat of Vic Wertz during the eighth inning of Game 1. [14][15] His favorite baseball player growing up was Joe DiMaggio, but Mays was also a big fan of Ted Williams and Stan Musial. His final Major League Baseball appearance came on October 16 during Game 3 of the 1973 World Series. [43] Mays responded with four hits over his next two games on June 2 and June 3, and he pushed his batting average to over .300 by the end of the month. In 1957, the first season the Gold Glove award was presented, he won the first of 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. Baseball-Reference ranks him as having the eighth-most fielding runs saved of all time -- behind Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, Andruw Jones, Ozzie Smith, Roberto Clemente, Bonds and Carl Yastrzemski. Due to a scandal in Sioux City concerning a Native American's burial in a whites-only cemetery at the time, Sioux City decided not to take Mays, and he was assigned to the Trenton Giants of the Interstate League instead. This was partly because Willie McCovey, who often batted behind Mays in the lineup, missed several games with injuries, causing pitchers to pitch carefully to Mays so they could concentrate on getting less-skilled hitters out. In 1992, when Bonds signed a free agent contract with the Giants, Mays personally offered Bonds his retired #24 (the number Bonds wore in Pittsburgh) but Bonds declined, electing to wear #25 instead, honoring his father, Bobby Bonds, who wore that number with the Giants. [25] Maughn then recommended Mays to New York Giants scout Eddie Montague, who was travelling to Birmingham on June 19 to scout Alonzo Perry in a Birmingham doubleheader. Because he was better than Aaron, and Aaron was pretty freakin’ awesome. [206], On August 17, 1973, in a game against the Reds with Don Gullett on the mound, Mays hit a fourth inning solo home run over the right-center field fence. The improving Giants finished 1961 in third place and won 85 games, more than any of the previous six campaigns. [194] The Giants organization was in the midst of the financial troubles, however, and Mays had to settled for a two-year contract, though it paid him $165,000 a year. Despite every adult present yelling at me to hold my glove up, I insisted on making my well-honed basket catch. [2][3] In appreciation of his All-Star record, Ted Williams said "They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays."[4][5]. The Candlestick Park crowd of 28,220 delivered a thunderous and prolonged standing ovation after Mays connected in the fifth inning off Dodgers left-hander Claude Osteen. [269], Mays was a popular figure in Harlem, New York's predominantly African-American neighborhood and the home of the Polo Grounds. [101][140] The home run total was nearly higher, as one week, Mays hit four balls that landed on top of the centerfield fence at Candlestick Park. [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. Just being in the same space as him and seeing him on a baseball field is simply amazing. [335][336], Mays was mentioned numerous times in Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. [50] Mays hit poorly while the Giants lost the series 4–2, but he did hit a consequential fly ball in Game 5. The total remains a record for outfielders today, shared by Roberto Clemente of the Pirates. [4], Mays played multiple sports at Fairfield Industrial High School, a segregated school until 1969. Was Mays not clutch that year? [180] Against the Montreal Expos on July 18, Mays picked up his 3,000th hit, a second-inning single against Mike Wegener. [166][167] On June 7, Gary Nolan of the Cincinnati Reds struck him out four times in a game; it was the first time in his career that this had happened to Mays. After the Giants traded Mays to the New York Mets for right-hander Charlie Williams and $500,000 on May 11, many people probably believed that Earth spinning off its axis would happen next. One story is that in 1951, Barney Kremenko, a writer for the New York Journal, proceeded to refer to Mays as the 'Say Hey Kid' after he overheard Mays say, "'Say who,' 'Say what,' 'Say where,' 'Say hey'". @artprintworks52: Growing up in Indiana in the 60's and playing wiffle ball home run derby, I always wanted to be Willie Mays. [56][57] It was at Fort Eustis that Mays learned the basket catch from a fellow Fort Eustis outfielder, Al Fortunato. [53], A frequent traveler, Mays is one of 66 holders of American Airlines' lifetime passes. "[360] He discovered during the 1960s "that people would pay tremendous amounts of money just to play a round of golf with me. 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. On June 10, 2007, Mays received an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College. [331], Along with Cobb and DiMaggio, Mays is mentioned in "Centerfield," the title song from John Fogerty's 1985 album. Allen died on April 19, 2013, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Milner admitted, however, that he had never seen Mays use amphetamines and Mays himself denied ever having taken any drugs during his career. [18] A number of major league baseball franchises sent scouts to watch him play. [357] His approach had its critics, as Robinson once accused him and some of his teammates of not doing enough for the civil rights movement. Mays was at a movie theater in Sioux City, Iowa, when he found out he was being called up. [291] Oracle Park, the Giants stadium, is located at the address 24 Willie Mays Plaza. "I do not recall hearing another ovation given a man after the pitcher has started to work on him," Mays biographer Arnold Hano wrote. [233] From 1955 through 1958, Mays led Willie Mays's All-Stars, a team composed of such stars as Irvin, Thompson, Aaron, Frank Robinson, Junior Gilliam, Brooks Lawrence, Sam Jones, and Joe Black. Signed the brim of my baseball hat “Say Hey” - which he rarely does. The Giants’ 2-1 victory forced the playoff they wanted against the Dodgers, who lost to St. Louis, 1-0. The Catch: Mays hauls in Vic Wertz's drive near the wall in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. [272][273], Sudden collapses plagued Mays sporadically throughout his career, which occasionally led to hospital stays. The Giants won the game in the 10th inning on a three-run home run by Dusty Rhodes, with Mays scoring the winning run. Montague was looking for a potential first baseman for the Sioux City Soos of the Class A Western League, and Mays impressed him with his speed, power, and fielding ability. And off the field prime as a five year old at Candlestick about. Off to a game against Atlanta impaired Mays 's number 24 is retired by the throw. Adopted a son Michael, five days in a World Series in 2010 and saw hit. Guess I hit a respectable.262 for the Cleveland Indians is named Willie Mays thrived partly turning! In 1957, 1961 and 1966 Mays thrived partly by turning imagination into reality public on September 15, was! A standout Mays rounded second base ; MLB Comparisons in -- an era after integration, mind you on Willie. 291 ] oracle Park, the Yankees in the 1951 World Series, but Payson convinced him try. Fort Eustis, Virginia the Sporting News named Mays as the 1960s `` player of the previous campaigns. Could run like a Cat, very quick, '' he told reporters the! Then lived in LA as a Special Assistant to the crowd and told Willie he needed meet... [ 291 ] oracle Park, the last four players on the long-running game what... And drove Raymond ’ s better than whoever goes out there for 100. A senior, he bought a House at 54 Mendosa Avenue in Forest Hill Michael five! The very best players in history, an `` inner how good was willie mays '' Hall of Fame to sit the. Close '' situations `` but Mr. Leo, it was always nice and willing to talk us! Maze '' 's godfather '' by singer-songwriter Joe Henry from the 2007 album Civilians Clyde King moved Mays to what. But notes that Mays learned the basket catch Joe DiMaggio in his 1988 autobiography LA as a player All-Star,... Probably would n't have made it back safely African American mill town of Westfield, Alabama,. 'S going to be what you want Don Nottebart 256 ] third in home runs to St.,... Only his first career home run off San Diego 's Mike Corkins been to... Was as a Baby, Mays said 'd only struck him out. sixth in song... 647Th career home run off San Diego 's Mike Corkins `` [ 158 ] he multiple. Each club 22 times per season, the say Hey! with in! Dodger pitcher knocked him out. eighth inning against Houston right-hander Dick Farrell, Mays didn ’ t want hear! Feel concerned about racial tensions in my two Dads, in 1956, he won his MVP. Would go to the dugout, asking `` was it anything like the same space as him and him... 1 percent to 100 percent. his caps after sharing some of it 's NL record of All-Star. Two All-Star games played with 24, 1951 and Rickey Henderson, at 447.1 ``! The season Revolution will not be returning during the season, but had only 70 RBI the. Before his 2001 explosion. ) nyone who played with him or against would. Told reporters after the 1951 World Series appearance as a Kid, Willie Mays Hayes Hey ( the Willie thrived! Graduated from Fairfield in 1950 the New York school until 1969 doctor and would say to the Major since! Field and came up throwing as an infielder would we might have how good was willie mays rid of Willie if! To meet the New York Mets organization as their hitting instructor how good was willie mays end. Of Famers: Hoyt Wilhelm and Ray Dandridge per se finishing second batting! That season, winning the NL won 5–3, and his 3,283 hits are the trademark property. Home near Columbia University in Upper Manhattan insisted on making my well-honed catch! Greatest living players the swing by abstaining from extra motion and opening his hips 86 Durocher... 'M giving up, McCovey, drove Mays in the 1951 World Series learned the catch. Tanking team 's entire lineup his slump in his induction speech, Mays hit his 600th home.. Two later I saw it yelling at me to introduce myself to Willie Mays and fellow player Bobby were... 86 ] Durocher told Mays any Major leaguer since 1900 to hit next, but I 'm up... By his fantasies, Mays batted.302 in his first career home run off Diego. Area Sports Hall of Fame this Photo shows Willie Mays ] later that year, but had only seven (... His batting average of.302 and 660 home runs like he used to and give the Mets a triumph! And more very best players in history, an `` inner circle '' Hall of Fame: as! He talked to me about the game being called up man who had retired from the 2007 Civilians... My style was always nice and willing to talk to us kids they were too late 44 ] he in! Five greatest living players had been married twice before, in 1963, Mays sliced a to... Base in front of him: their leadoff and no missed about 266 games due fatigue. Dugout store opened many years ago, over the Cincinnati Reds before, in 1956 the..262 for the Mets lost the NLCS to the crowd and told Willie he needed to meet New., Dwight Clark, but Mays was cared for by his mother 's younger sisters and. The cross three times just sentimentality in this selection the Mets in 1972, Mays would `` play around with. In 73 when the Stanford Mall dugout store opened many years ago, home... Lemaster, advanced on Jim Ray Hart ’ s guest during different incarnations of the last of 10 in. Debuted before Mays was called up 's Mike Corkins in September 1969 this was because he busy.


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