The Legend of Willie Mays: A Career of Excellence in Major League Baseball

Nineteen days after turning 20 years old, he received the baptism of bigleaguer Willie Mays, who eight decades after that magical moment is still considered one of the most complete players in the history of the Major Leagues.

Saturday marked 73 years since the beginning of the legend of someone who stood out as a center fielder and notable slugger with the New York and San Francisco Giants (1951-72) and New York Mets (1972-73) teams.

Representative of excellence as a skilled hitter, power hitter, outstanding base runner, above average fielder and owner of a powerful arm, Mays finished his career with a .302 lifetime average, 3,293 hits, 660 home runs, 1,909 RBIs, attended dozens of All-Star Games, won 12 Gold Gloves and won the National League Rookie of the Year (1951) and Most Valuable Player (1954 and 1965) awards.

Professional from early

At the age of 15, Mays made his professional debut in the Negro Leagues with the New York Cubans in the 1946 campaign. The following year he played briefly with the Chattanooga Choo Choos club, before reaching the highest level in the so-called baseball. color with the Birmingham Black Barons team. He earned $250 a month part-time because he had to attend high school in his town of Wetsfield, Alabama.

Read also: Luis Matos came to stay in the Giants

It was while playing in Birmingham in 1946 that the Dodgers recruited Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 broke the color barrier and encouraged their hopes of reaching MLB as an African-American player.

Signs with the Giants

After graduating from high school in 1957, the New York Giants signed him with a bonus of $15,000 and assigned him to their Class B affiliate in Trenton, New Jersey, where he hit .353 in 81 games and won promotion to AAA with the Minneapolis Millers club. He began the 1951 contest in that same team and a little over a month into the season, when he averaged .477 with 8 home runs and 30 RBIs, he was promoted to the Major Leagues.

On May 25, 1951, in front of 21,082 fans who gathered at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, he was lined up as centerfield and hit third in a game that the Giants won 8-5. He failed in five at-bats that day and barely had one hit in his first 26 plate appearances, so he became frustrated and thought about returning to the minors.

But manager Leo Durocher gave him a vote of confidence and he finished the season as the best rookie. And 28 years later he was recognized as a Cooperstown immortal.

2024-05-26 21:05:00
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