Remembering Willie Mays: Baseball Legend’s Legacy Lives On

Remembering Willie Mays: Baseball Legend’s Legacy Lives On

Willie Mays, one of baseball’s greatest icons, died Thursday June 18, 2024 in Paolo Alto, California at the age of 93.

“I join the baseball community in mourning the passing of Willie Mays, one of the greatest baseball players of all time and a respected figure around the world,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “My thoughts are with his loved ones.”

Willie Howard Mays Junior was born in 1931 in Westfield, Alabama.

“Legend has it that he began walking at six months and soon began chasing baseballs around the house,” the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) wrote on its official website.

Mays made his professional baseball debut in 1948 for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. He signed with the New York Giants in 1950, then aged 19 and for a bonus of 4,000 US dollars.

Mays made his MLB debut in 1954, leading the Giants to the 1954 World Series. That fall, he made one of baseball’s most memorable plays to deep center field at the Polo Ground. We were going to remember it like The Catch (caught him). Mays was named World Series MVP.

Mays remained with the Giants as they moved to San Francisco (1968) and played with the team until 1972. After playing in 19 games in 1972 he was traded to the New York Mets. He would play 66 games for the Mets in 1973, during his final season.

His career statistics are extraordinary: 3005 games, 3293 hits, 650 home runs, a .301 batting average and 338 stolen bases. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979.

Mays was a 24-time All-Star and 12-time Gold Glove player as a center fielder.

“I can’t really tell my players not to hit him. Wherever they hit he’s always there,” Brooklyn Dodgers All-Star first baseman and then Washington Senators and New York Mets manager Gil Hodges said ( 1924-1972).

Mays was considered “a monument, the epitome of charisma,” and nicknamed the Say Hey Kid. Actress Tallulah Bankhead was quoted as saying, “The only two geniuses in the world” are Willie Mays and William Shakespeare.

“Major League Baseball is in mourning today,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “Willies Mays radiated from the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League to the historic Giants franchise. From coast to coast in New York and San Francisco, Willie inspired generations of players and fans then that our sport was growing and gaining its place as our national pastime.”

Thursday, June 20, the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants will play at Birmingham Rickwook Field, home of the Black Barons.

“Thursday’s game at historic Rickwook Field was designed as a celebration of Willie Mays and his teammates. We are saddened, but it will be a good way to remember this American who will forever remain on the short list of individuals who had the biggest impact on our sport,” commented Manfred.

2024-06-19 22:25:38
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