Willie Mays passes away at age 93

Bless You Boys

There is sad news to report from the baseball world. Willie Mays, perhaps the game’s greatest all around player and also one its great ambassadors in the 50 odd years since his retirement following the 1973 season, has died at the age of 93.

Born on May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Alabama, May was a highly regarded all-around athlete in high school and made his professional debut with the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro American League in 1948 before he’d graduated. The New York Giants signed him in 1950 and the rest is history.

Nicknamed “the Say Hey Kid”, Mays burst on the scene in 1951, hitting 20 home runs to win the National League Rookie of the Year award as the Giants famously won their first pennant in 14 years. That series ended with the most famous home run in baseball history, the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” as Bobby Thomson took Brooklyn Dodgers’ right-hander Ralph Branca deep for the second time in the series.

Mays served in the armed forces in 1952-1954, heading from his discharge straight to spring training to begin the season. Mays won the first of two NL MVP awards in 1954, leading the Giants to their last World Series title before the cross-country move to San Francisco. That series featured Mays making the game’s most famous game-saving catch, referred to simply as “The Catch” in Game 1, the over-the-shoulder snare of a Vic Wertz fly ball in an eighth inning with runners on first and second and no outs. The catch was something else, and the strong, quick throw back in also pinned both runners in place as southpaw Don Liddle would escape the inning and the Giants went on to capture the series.

Mays finished his career as a .301 hitter with a .384 career on-base percentage while hitting 660 home runs, collecting 1909 RBI, and stealing 338 bases. He was twice the NL MVP and a 24 time All-Star, winning 12 straight Gold Glove awards. Mays was widely regarded as one of the top centerfielders of all-time to go along with production that only a handful of hitters could replicate.

Mays was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, a true first ballot Hall of Famer. He did some coaching with the Mets following his playing days, but in 1986 the Giants finally did right, bringing Mays home as a special assistant, a role he would hold the rest of his life.

There will never another like him, nor a time in the game like the one he defined. We offer best wishes for peace as well as our condolences to Willie Mays family, friends, and many admirers. Truly one of the greatest to ever do it.

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