View Full Version : ESPN-C -- Willie Mays: Mon, 02/03, 3:00am ET

Jersey Yankee
01-30-03, 08:04 PM
ESPN Classic/Sports Century

Willie Howard Mays, Jr.
Nickname: The Say Hey Kid

Mon, 02/03/03, 3:00am ET (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tvlistings/schedule?date=20030203&network=18&sport=all).
1 hr.

Please see Willie's Cooperstown bio (http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers_and_honorees/hofer_bios/mays_willie.htm), his career stats (http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/mayswi01.shtml), and an ESPN tribute (http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016223.html).

His HOF plaque reads:

NEW YORK N.L. 1951 - 1973
(3,283) AND RBI'S (1,903). FIRST IN PUTOUTS
MVP IN 1954 AND 1965. PLAYED IN 24
ALL-STAR GAMES - A RECORD.Willie Mays (http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/M/Mays_Willie.stm)

All-Star in 1954-73
Led League in ba 54
Led League in hr 55, 62, 64-65
Most Valuable Player Award in 1954, 65
Gold Glove in 1957-68
Hall Of Fame in 1979

Considered by many the greatest player of all time, Mays was the prototype of the complete player; he hit for average and power, ran the bases with intelligence and speed, played a spectacular centerfield, and possessed a great arm. He was also remarkably durable, playing in at least 150 games for 13 consecutive seasons.

Mays starred in baseball, basketball, and football at Birmingham, Alabama's Fairfax Industrial High School before joining the Birmingham Barons of the Negro National League at age 17. The New York Giants purchased his contract in 1950, and he played for Trenton of the Interstate League, then joined the Triple-A Minneapolis Millers of the American Association in 1951. In his 35-game stay at Minneapolis, he hit a sizzling .477, and the Giants called him up in late May 1951.

Mays had a discouraging 0-for-12 start with the struggling Giants. Manager Leo Durocher kept his spirits up by declaring that despite his poor start, Mays was and would remain the Giants' full-time centerfielder that season. His first hit was the first home run of his ML career, off Warren Spahn. It helped Mays to end his slump, and he became one of the sparks that ignited the Giants in their classic, come-from-behind pennant chase, climaxed by Bobby Thomson's dramatic ninth-inning playoff home run that beat Brooklyn for the NL championship. Mays was on deck when Thomson hit it out. His World Series debut saw him play opposite future cross-river rival Mickey Mantle, who was also a rookie. The meeting foreshadowed the debate of nearly a decade about who among Mays, Mantle, and Brooklyn's Duke Snider was the greatest New York centerfielder of the 1950s.

Mays served in the army in 1952 and 1953, and the Giants finished second and fifth, respectively. He returned to the Polo Grounds in 1954, leading the NL with a .345 batting average with 41 homers and 110 RBI to help the Giants to the NL flag. The 1954 World Series is most often remembered for a marvelous outfield play by Mays in the first game. With the score tied late in the game, Indians first baseman Vic Wertz clubbed a long drive to deep centerfield at the Polo Grounds. At the crack of the bat, Mays turned his back to the plate, raced for the outfield wall, glanced up at the last minute, and pulled the ball in over his shoulder. Nearly 430 feet from the plate, he whirled and threw on a line to the infield. The play killed the Indians' threat, and the Giants won the game and swept the Series.

In 1955, his last season under manager Durocher, Mays led the league with 13 triples, 51 home runs, and a .659 slugging average. He won four consecutive stolen-base titles from 1956 through 1959. He stole 338 bases in his career and might have had more had he and the Giants not elected to minimize his chance of injury on the basepaths. His unique 1957 performance of 20 or more doubles, triples, homers, and stolen bases established his claim as one of the game's greatest all-around offensive threats.

Mays had a habit of addressing his fellow players with a high-spirited "say hey" salutation, prompting New York sportswriter Barney Kremenko to call him the Say Hey Kid. An exuberant figure during his earlier days in New York, he became a folk hero by playing stickball with children in Harlem streets bordering the Polo Grounds. He was embraced lovingly by New Yorkers, who were heartbroken when the Giants moved to San Francisco following the 1957 season, but his reception in the Bay Area was lukewarm by comparison, and he was never shown the affection accorded to Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey, who debuted there. Some writers ascribed Mays's limited popularity to his New York affiliation. Other writers found Mays to be aloof from the fans as well as the media, and there were rumors that he demanded special treatment from his managers. Nevertheless, he continued to shine. He cracked 49 home runs in 1962 as the Giants tied the Dodgers for first place on the last day of the season and captured the pennant in a three-game playoff before losing the World Series to the Yankees in a seventh-game 1-0 squeaker.

Along with Mantle and Aaron, Mays was the dominant slugger of the 1950s and 1960s. From 1958 through 1966, he produced eight consecutive seasons of over 100 runs and RBI. He collected four home runs in a game in Milwaukee on April 30, 1961, and he hit three homers in a game on two other occasions. He hammered 52 homers in 1965 to join Ruth, Foxx, Kiner, and Mantle as the only players with more than one 50-home run season. He hit 30 or more homers in each of 11 seasons. On May 4, 1966, Mays passed Mel Ott's 19-year-old record of 511 National League home runs and finished his career with a total of 660, ranking him third on the all-time list behind Henry Aaron's 755 and Babe Ruth's 714.

Mays's preeminence as a centerfielder is supported statistically by his career total of 7,095 putouts, the most in major league history. He used his patented basket catch on routine fly balls, and he regularly dumbfounded onlookers by making seemingly impossible plays. After a particularly astonishing display in which Mays raced to his left, speared a fly ball, spun 360 degrees counterclockwise, and threw the ball on a 325-foot line to nail a tagging Dodger baserunner at the plate, Brooklyn manager Charlie Dressen commented, "I won't believe that play until I see him do it again."

In May 1972, the fading Mays was traded to the Mets. With them, he played his final season and made his final World Series appearance on a 1973 team that had finished the year with a record just slightly over .500. The ten-year contract he signed as a goodwill ambassador and part-time coach for the Mets took effect after his retirement as a player. Shortly after Mays's election to the Hall of Fame in 1979, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn issued a controversial order requiring Mays to choose between his employment by the Mets and his job as a greeter for a hotel casino. Mays chose employment by the casino, and he was barred from his baseball duties in October 1979. However, the edict was lifted in 1985 by new commissioner Peter Uberroth. Mays then retained his job as greeter while serving as a part-time hitting coach for the Giants. (FS/CR)

» May 25, 1951: Giants rookie Willie Mays, who was hitting .477 with Minneapolis, goes 0-for-5 in his ML debut against the Phils. He strikes out in his first at bat, against Bubba Church. New York wins, 8–5.

» May 28, 1951: After going 0-for-12, Willie Mays connects for his first ML hit, a home run off Braves P Warren Spahn. The Giants lose the game 4–1.

» June 22, 1951: Willie Mays, 20, hits a 10th-inning HR, the first of his 22 extra-innings HRs, off 42-year-old Dutch Leonard of the Cubs. It is a 3-run shot that gives the Giants a 9–6 win.

» July 3, 1951: Giants rookie Willie Mays blasts a 13th inning solo homer off the Phillies Jocko Thompson to give New York a win. It is Willie's 2nd extra inning homer in two weeks:[/b] he'll hit another on July 7th, against the Braves George Estock.

» July 28, 1951: The Giants go 7–0 at Crosley Field this year by defeating the Reds, 3–1. Willie Mays has his third homer in six days and Larry Jansen wins to go 15–2 against the Rhinelanders.

» July 29, 1951: In game one at Cincinnati, Willie Mays steals the first of 338 bases. Then P Willie Ramsdell picks him off 2B. But the Giants win, 3–1, behind Sal Maglie. New York takes the nitecap as well, 6–4, as Irvin (2) and Mays both swipe bases.

» August 1, 1951: The Cubs' Eddie Miksis lines a ball to Willie Mays in CF, which caroms off his head for a double, as the Cubs nip the Giants, 3–2. Cal McLish wins over Larry Jansen. The Giants come back in game two behind the shut out pitching of Al Corwin to top the Cubs, 2–0. Bob Kelly is the losing pitcher, while Al Corwin wins his first ML game.

» August 15, 1951: Giants P Jim Hearn defeats the Dodgers 3–1 as Willie Mays makes a miraculous play in the 8th. With the score 1–1 and Billy Cox on 3rd, Mays makes a running catch of a Carl Furillo drive in deep right CF and whirls counterclockwise to throw out the astonished Cox at home. Wes Westrum's 2-run homer off Ralph Branca in the 8th provides the two-run margin. Hearn allows just six hits, all singles, as the Giants move to 10 1/2 behind Brooklyn.

» August 30, 1951: The Giants move to an 8–1 lead after five inning over the Pirates behind two homers by Willie Mays. But George Spencer wilts in the heat and gives up homers to Frank Thomas—his first in the majors—and pinch hitter Gus Bell. After Pete Castiglione and Bill Rigney match homers, Ralph Kiner powers one in the 9th inning to give Pittsburgh a 10–9 victory. For Kiner, it is his 37th.

» September 3, 1951: In a Labor Day doubleheader at the Polo Grounds, the Phils Robin Roberts stops New York, 6–3, in the opener. The Giants blow a 3–0 1st inning lead when homers by Ashburn and Swish Nicholson bring the Phils back. Dave Koslo salvages a 2nd game, winning 3–1 over Niles Jordan. Willie Mays makes another rookie error in the 2nd. After an apparent inside-the-park home run, Phils 3B Tommy Brown appeals, and Mays is called out for failing to touch 3B. He is credited with a double.

» October 2, 1951: The Dodgers bounce back as rookie Clem Labine evens the playoff with a 10–0 win, besting the Giants' Sheldon Jones. Home runs are smashed by Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Andy Pafko, and Rube Walker. Willie Mays grounds into three double plays.

» October 4, 1951: In the opening game of the World Series, Monte Irvin steals home in the first inning and collects four hits. The Giants defeat Allie Reynolds and the Yankees 5–1 with Dave Koslo going all the way at Yankee Stadium. With the injured Mueller missing the World Series, Bobby Thomson switches to 1B and the Giants field the first black outfield of Hank Thompson, Monte Irvin and Willie Mays.

» October 5, 1951: The Yanks and Eddie Lopat even up the World Series by winning 3–1 over Larry Jansen. Lopat scatters five hits, three by Monte Irvin. Irvin has now hit safely seven straight times in two games. Mickey Mantle is injured in the 5th inning when he steps on an exposed water sprinkler while chasing a Willie Mays fly ball. Mantle is taken off the field on a stretcher and the injury to his knee will plague him throughout his career. He will undergo the first of six knee operations.

» May 13, 1952: Bobby Thomson has a home run and double to drive in five runs to power the Giants to a 7–4 win over the Reds. Bob Elliott and Willie Mays also homer as Larry Jansen wins his 10th straight over the Reds going back to August 29, 1948.

» May 28, 1952: Willie Mays is 0-for-4 in his last game as a civilian, but the Giants top the Dodgers, 6–2, beating Billy Loes.

» May 29, 1952: The Giants Willie Mays enters the army. Although Mays is hitting just .236, the Giants are two 1/2 games in first place. They will lose eight of their next 10 games.

» April 13, 1954: The Giants, fresh from a Cactus League season where they beat the Indians 13 out of 21 meetings, trip the Dodgers, 4–3. Back in CF after two years in the army, Willie Mays of the Giants hits a 2-run shot that beats Brooklyn.

» April 30, 1954: Willie Mays homers in the 14th inning off Cubs lefty Warren Hacker to give Sal Maglie and the Giants a 4–2 victory.

» May 28, 1954: At the Polo Grounds, the Giants whip the Dodgers 17–6 with a 6-HR barrage. Four of the home runs come in the 8th as Davey Williams, Alvin Dark, Monte Irvin, and Billy Gardner connect off Ben Wade. Whitey Lockman, in the 1st, and Willie Mays, in the 2nd account for the other two. Brooklyn scores a run in the 6th when Giants P Marv Grissom balks home Rube Walker from 3B. Catcher Ray Katt is at fault, having called a time out when Grissom is in his windup.

» June 3, 1954: Henry Thompson of the Giants hits three HRs and knocks in eight runs in a 13-8 win against the Cardinals. Willie Mays collects the other five RBI on two HRs.

» July 28, 1954: Giants OF Dusty Rhodes hits three consecutive HRs at the Polo Grounds to back Johnny Antonelli's 10-0 whipping of St. Louis. It is Antonelli's 10th consecutive win. Willie Mays smacks his 36th HR, a 447 foot clout to LF.

» August 16, 1954: In a throwing contest between Jimmy Piersall and Willie Mays before a Red Sox-Giants charity game in Boston, Piersall hurts his arm. He starts the game but leaves midway. He wakes up the following morning with a sore arm that stays with him a year, and he will never throw quite as well again.

» September 14, 1954: Willie Mays hits a 1st inning double and scores the only run in a 1-0 win over the Cards. It is Johnny Antonelli's 21st win of the year. Mays's hit is his 82nd extra-base hit, breaking Mel Ott's team record.

» September 18, 1954: The Giants' Don Mueller makes his 200th hit an inside-the-park HR, making him the first Giant to get 200 hits since Joe Moore in 1936. Willie Mays also has an inside-the park-HR, as the Giants beat the Phils 8-1.

» September 26, 1954: Going into the last day of the NL season, Don Mueller leads in hitting with .3426; Duke Snider is 2nd at .3425, followed by Willie Mays at .3422. The Giants win in 11 innings over the Phillies Robin Roberts, as Mays garners a single, double, and triple in 4 ABs. He finishes at .345 while Mueller slips to .341, the same as Snider.

» September 29, 1954: In Game 1 of the WS, Willie Mays of the Giants makes one of the greatest catches in history when he races back to deep CF in the Polo Grounds to make an over-the-head catch of Indian Vic Wertz's 462-foot drive in the 8th with the score tied at 2-2. Wertz drove in the 2 runs in the first with a triple. In the 10th, Dusty Rhodes hits a pinch-hit, 3-run, 260-foot HR off Bob Lemon to give the Giants a 5-2 victory.

» January 11, 1955: Before an exhibition game in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Willie Mays and teammate Ruben Gomez get into a brawl. It starts when Gomez slips into the batting catch ahead of Mays, and batting practice pitcher Milt Ralat then refuses to throw. The sulking Gomez sits down on the plate, and Mays then steps to the side and directs the pitcher to throw to him there. Ralat then throws an insulting slow pitch which Willie barehands and fires back. He and Ralat exchange words and when Mays walks towards the mound, Gomez, brandishing a bat, attempts to interfere. Mays drops him with a right. The two later apologize to each other.

» February 12, 1955: Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente hit crucial HRs to lead Santurce (Puerto Rico) to a 4-2 win over Venezuela in the Caribbean Series. Mays's HR comes in the 11th.

» May 17, 1955: Paced by Joe Adcock's four hits, including a home run, the Braves defeat the Giants, 9–4. Gene Conley is the winner, despite giving up home runs to Willie Mays and Hank Thompson, but he does stop Don Mueller's 24-game hit streak.

» June 19, 1955: The Giants bench Willie Mays for 2 days for a "rest."

» September 18, 1955: In a 7-5 loss to Brooklyn, Willie Mays hits his 9th HR at Ebbets Field to tie Joe Adcock's mark.

» September 20, 1955: Giants slugger Willie Mays poles 2 HRs against the Pirates, giving him 50 for the year, making him only the 7th player in history to accomplish this. The Giants sweep the doubleheader, winning 11-1 and 14-8. Mays's HR in the 2nd game was his 7th in 6 consecutive games.

» September 25, 1955: Bobby Hofman underscores the tone of the season for the Giants as he lines into a season-ending triple play against the Phillies in a 3-1 loss. The Giants win the opener 5-2, as Willie Mays belts his 51st HR of the year.

» April 17, 1956: Despite 2 HRs by Dale Long, Pittsburgh loses to New York 4-3 when Willie Mays scores from 2B in the 8th inning on Daryl Spencer's groundout to 2B.

» May 2, 1956: Twenty-five Giants and 23 Cubs appear —a ML record—in a 17-inning marathon finally won by the visiting Giants 6–5. The two teams combined to intentionally walk 11 batters, a record, with the Cubs contributing seven of the free passes. Losing pitcher Jim Brosnan chipped in with four walks, all intentional. Cub 3B Don Hoak was not one of the strollers, whiffing a National League record six times—all against different pitches, while Ernie Banks, Willie Mays and Wes Westrum were twice walked intentionally. Whitey Lockman starts in LF, goes to 1B, returns to LF, and finishes at 1B. Ex-Giants Monte Irvin is 0-for-5 against five pitchers. The game is six minutes shy of the 5:19 record set by the Dodgers-Braves in 20 innings in 1940.

» May 6, 1956: Led By Willie Mays's four stolen bases, the Giants edge the Cards, 5–4.

» July 8, 1956: The Giants connect for a team-record seven HRs in a 11-1 home win over the Pirates. Willie Mays, Daryl Spencer, and Wes Westrum each connect for 2. Hank Thompson, Westrum, and Spencer hit consecutive HRs in the fourth inning.

» July 10, 1956: In the All-Star Game, Ken Boyer of the Cardinals makes 3 sparkling plays at 3B and gets 3 hits as the NL defeats the AL 7-3. Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial all homer. Mays's pinch-hit 2-run HR off of Whitey Ford is his 7th straight hit against the Yankee lefty.

» August 15, 1956: The Dodgers and Giants draw 26,385 for a night-game record at Jersey City. A Willie Mays HR is the only scoring as Johnny Antonelli shuts out the Dodgers 1-0.

» March 23, 1957: At LA's Wrigley Field, Willie Mays belts two homers to lead the Giants to a 9–3 Cactus League win over the Indians. Bill Rigney fines Hank Thompson $150 for missing last night's exhibition win over the Indians in San Diego.

» June 28, 1957: By stuffing the ballot box, Cincinnati fans elect 8 Redlegs as starters in the All-Star Game. Over protests from Reds fans, Commissioner Ford Frick names Stan Musial, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron to replace Reds Gus Bell, George Crowe, and Wally Post in the starting lineup. In the final vote tally, Musial is the only non-Redleg who would have started.

» January 6, 1958: Willie Mays's $65,000 contract is a record high for the Giants.

» May 12, 1958: Willie Mays hits the first grand slam in the history of the San Francisco Giants and adds another home run as Los Angeles loses 12–3.

» May 13, 1958: Willie Mays goes 5-for-5 against the Dodgers, as the Giants win 16–9. Mays has another two home runs, plus two triples, and four RBIs to compete with Daryl Spencer's two home runs, triple, double, and six RBIs. The Giants pound out 26 hits, while the Dodgers collect 11, the longest being Charlie Neal's home run over the distant RF fence at the Coliseum. The Giants set a ML-record when five players collect four hits apiece.

» May 21, 1958: At Cincinnati, Willie Mays belts a 10th inning home run off Hal Jeffcoat to give the Giants a 5–4 win.

» June 23, 1958: Carl Willey of the Braves pitches a 7–0 shutout against the Giants in his first ML start. Another noted starter is Joe Adcock, playing LF for the 1st times since 1952, who climbs the fence to snag a ball. Willey gives up six hits, including Willie Mays's 1,000th career hit. Willey is relieved by Don McMahon who becomes the first pitcher to be driven to the mound, when a motor scooter with sidecar delivers him from the bullpen.

» September 12, 1958: The Giants sweep the Phillies 5–2 and 19–2 as Willie Mays has six hits to raise his average to .333. Jim Davenport tops him with seven hits, including a 3-run inside-the-park home run in the first inning of game 2, and scores seven runs.

» September 20, 1958: The Giants Ruben Gomez gives up three hits, all to Bobby Gene Smith, as the Giants beat St. Louis 5–1. Willie Mays's three hits raises his average to .340, and he steals his 30th base, the first to steal 30 three times since Kiki Cuyler in 1930.

» September 29, 1958: In a race that goes down to the last game, Richie Ashburn wins the National League batting title with a 3-for-4 day that raises him to .350, three percentage points ahead of Willie Mays, despite Willie's three hits in the Giant's 7–2 win over St. Louis yesterday. In a 10-inning 6–4 Phillies win in Pittsburgh, the Phils Dave Philley sets a major-league record by getting his 8th consecutive pinch hit.

» September 30, 1958: In the Phillies 6–4, 10-inning win at Pittsburgh, Richie Ashburn clinches the batting title going 3-for-4 to finish at .3495. Willie Mays, leading off in SF's win over St. Louis, is 3-for-5 to finish at .3466. Dave Philley sets a major-league record for consecutive pinch hits when he doubles in the 7th for his 8th straight pinch hit. Peanuts Lowrey had seven straight pinch hits in 1952.

» November 25, 1958: The BBWAA names Chicago Cubs slugger Ernie Banks the 1958 MVP. Willie Mays is the runner-up.

» June 30, 1959: The Giants Sam Jones throws a 2-0 one-hitter against the Dodgers, allowing only Jim Gilliam's controversial single in the eighth, a grounder SS Andre Rodgers has difficulty picking up. Willie Mays's 2-run HR against Don Drysdale accounts for all the scoring.

» July 7, 1959: The NL defeats the AL 5-4 in the All-Star Game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Willie Mays knocks in Henry Aaron with the deciding run. Don Drysdale pitches perfect ball the first three innings.

» September 15, 1959: The Giants whip Warren Spahn and the Braves 13-6 behind Jack Sanford. Willie Mays has 4 hits and 5 RBI. The Giants are now 2 games in front with 8 to play.

» September 26, 1959: At St. Louis, Sam Jones pitches a 7-inning no-hitter, but NL President Warren Giles will rule it unofficial after rain wipes out the last 2 innings. But Jones gets credit for his 21st win 4-0 and Willie Mays and Willie McCovey HRs account for the runs.

» June 24, 1960: Willie Mays hits two home runs, singles, steals home, and makes 10 putouts to lead the Giants in a 5–3 win at Cincinnati. Mays has three RBI and three runs scored.

» July 13, 1960: Vern Law becomes the 2nd Pirate to win a 1960 All-Star Game, working two scoreless innings. Stan Musial comes off the National League bench and hits his record 6th and last All-Star Game home run. Willie Mays, Ken Boyer, and Eddie Mathews also homer in the 6–0 NL win, the 3rd shutout in All-Star Game history.

» September 15, 1960: Willie Mays ties the modern major-league record with three triples in a game against the Phillies. His 3-bagger off Turk Farrell gives the Giants an 8–6 win in 11 innings. Mays also strokes a double and single. The last National Leaguer to hit three treys in a game was Roberto Clemente, in 1958.

» February 9, 1961: Willie Mays signs for $85,000, currently the biggest contract in ML baseball.

» April 13, 1961: Alvin Dark pulls all the right strings to give the Giants a 6–5 win over the Pirates. Joey Amalfitano, hitting for cleanup man Willie McCovey in the 8th, singles in Willie Mays for a 4-4 tie; new catcher Hobie Landrith homers in the 11th to tie at five apiece, and Harvey Kuenn's single in the 12th wins it.

» April 30, 1961: Using Joey Amalfitano's bat, Willie Mays becomes the 9th player in ML history to enjoy a 4-HR game, and his eight RBI pace the Giants to a 14–4 win at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Led by Willie's 4, the Giants total a record tying eight homers (and 13 in two games) as Orlando Cepeda (2), Felipe Alou, and Jose Pagan also homer. Willie's 6th inning homer clears the LF bleachers at County Stadium. Hank Aaron collects a pair for the Braves for all the scoring. Billy Loes is the winning pitcher, and it marks the 4th time he has been in uniform at a game where a player has hit four homers:[/b] Loes was with the Dodgers in '50 and '54 when Gil Hodges and the Braves Joe Adcock connected, and with the Orioles in '59 when Rocky Colavito collected four.

» May 13, 1961: Wondrous Willie Mays clouts two home runs, one a grand slam, to drive in six runs as the Giants whip the Braves, 8–5.

» June 29, 1961: With three round-trippers at Philadelphia—one a 10th-inning shot to win 8–7—Willie Mays becomes the 4th ML player with three or more home runs twice in one season. Manager Gene Mauch's efforts to conceal his starting pitcher and force Al Dark's hand has a Phillie lineup including hurlers Don Ferrarese (batting leadoff, playing CF), Jim Owens (3rd, RF), Chris Short (7th, C), and Ken Lehman (9th, P) against San Francisco. When Dark sends a lefty to the mound, Mauch replaces Ferrarese. Dark then replaces Billy O'Dell with Sam Jones. Mauch replaces Lehman with Dallas Green after two batters. All the maneuvering takes three hours and 20 minutes. The Giants then take the nitecap, 4–1, as Mays triples and doubles home two runs and completes a DP with a throw home.

» July 4, 1961: At Chicago, the Giants roll to a 19–3 win in game 1, collecting 22 hits including a homer by Orlando Cepeda that is one of the longest in Wrigley history. The Cubs come back in the nitecap to win, 3–2, overcoming Willie Mays' 300th homer.

» July 24, 1961: At Yankee Stadium, 50,000 fans, on hand for the Yankees exhibition game with the Giants, save their biggest cheer for Willie Mays. Willie delivers a 2-run single in the 4–1 victory. The only score for the Yanks is a Mickey Mantle homer.

» September 19, 1961: The Giants clobber Warren Spahn for four home runs, one of them a grand slam by Willie Mays, and then rally in the 8th and 9th to top the Braves, 11–10. The two teams combine for eight home runs and 57 total bases, but the short ball wins it -- Harvey Kuenn's tie breaking single in the 8th, and Ed Bailey's sacks full single in the 9th.

» January 31, 1962: Willie Mays signs the biggest contract in baseball, a reported $90,000 for 1962. They also sign another slugger -- Ralph Kiner joins Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy in the announcing booth.

» February 7, 1962: Lawyer Melvin Belli obtains a writ laying claim to Willie Mays -- among other assets -- unless the Giants pay him the judgment awarded by a jury in January. Belli claims the club failed to file a motion for a new trial before the deadline.

» July 29, 1962: Don Drysdale pushes his record to 19–4 as he completes a three-game Dodger sweep over the Giants, winning 111. Howard has a home run and three singles to drive home five runs. Willie Mays accounts for the only Giants run with a home run. Los Angeles now leads the Giants by four games.

» September 12, 1962: In the dugout in Cincinnati, Willie Mays collapses from nervous exhaustion. He is taken to the hospital and will miss four games. The Giants lose 4–1 and will lose their next six to take them apparently out of the race.

» September 30, 1962: Willie Mays's 47th home run, an 8th-inning blast off Dick Farrell (10-20), leads the Giants to a critical 2–1 win. They then stay in the clubhouse to hear results of the Dodger game.

» October 1, 1962: San Francisco wins the first of the best-of-3 National League playoff games as Billy Pierce takes his 12th straight at Candlestick Park, a three-hit, 8–0 victory. Willie Mays hits two home runs, giving him 49 in 1962, one more than American League leader Harmon Killebrew. Sandy Koufax, making just his 3rd start since returning from his hand injury, is the loser.

» October 4, 1962: At Candlestick Park, in Game One of the World Series, Roger Maris stakes Whitey Ford to a 2-run lead with a first-inning, 2-run double. Only RF Felipe Alou's leaping effort keeps Maris' drive in the park. Ford's record consecutive-shutout-inning streak ends at 33 2/3 innings when a surprise bunt by Jose Pagan brings Willie Mays home. Clete Boyer's 7th-inning home run gives the Yankees a 6–2 win, the last of a record 10 World Series victories for Ford.

» October 16, 1962: New York scores the game's only run, as Tony Kubek grounds into a 5th-inning DP. In the 9th, with two outs and Matty Alou on 1B, Willie Mays rips a double to right off Ralph Terry, but great fielding by Roger Maris keeps Alou from scoring. Willie McCovey then hits a screaming liner toward right, but 2B Bobby Richardson gloves it, giving the Yankees a 1–0 win and a 2nd straight World Series victory. Terry is named World Series MVP.

» June 6, 1963: With the bases loaded and one out in the 12th, Cubs reliever Lindy McDaniel picks Willie Mays off 2B and then strikes out Ed Bailey. McDaniel then hits a leadoff home run in the bottom of the 10th, off reliever Billy Pierce, to win 3–2. It was Lindy's first hit of the season. Chicago moves into a 3-way, first-place tie with St. Louis and San Francisco, its first taste of the lead since May 1958.

» July 3, 1963: In the classic pitching matchup between the two Hall of Famers, the Braves Warren Spahn gives up nine hits in 15 1/3 innings, while Juan Marichal allows eight hits in 16 innings while striking out 10. At 12:31 A.M. in San Francisco, Willie Mays's round-tripper off Spahn in the bottom of the 16th gives Marichal a 1–0 win, the National League's longest win ended by a home run. Both pitchers go the distance in one of the greatest matchups ever.

» July 9, 1963: Willie Mays is held to a single, but dominates a 5–3 National League win in the All-Star Game. He also walks, steals twice, scores twice, bats in a pair, and makes a great catch. It is Stan Musial's 24th All-Star appearance, a record. Musial's teammates comprise the starting infield for the NL:[/b] 1B Bill White, 2B Julian Javier, SS Dick Groat, and 3B Ken Boyer. Javier was chosen as the replacement for Pittsburgh's injured 2B, Bill Mazeroski.

» August 27, 1963: Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, and Felipe Alou hit consecutive round-trippers in the 3rd inning of San Francisco's 7–2 win against St. Louis.

» September 22, 1963: For the first time, all three Alou brothers share the outfield. In the seventh inning, Matty Alou is in LF, Felipe Alou replaces Willie Mays in CF, and Jesus Alou is in RF. In the 8th, the three are retired, 1, 2, 3. But the offense comes from Willie McCovey who hits three homers as the Giants whip the Mets, 13–4.

» January 15, 1964: Willie Mays, the highest-paid player in baseball, signs for $105,000.

» May 31, 1964: The Mets and Giants square off in a doubleheader that starts at one p.m. and doesn't conclude until 11:25 p.m. After Juan Marichal's 5–3, first-game win, San Francisco holds a 6–1 lead in the 2nd until New York rallies for five to tie in the 7th. The big blow is Joe Christopher's 3-run homer that bounces off Willie Mays' glove over the fence. Eventually, with two out in the 23rd, pinch hitter Del Crandall delivers a run-scoring double off Galen Cisco, and the Giants prevail 8–6 after seven hours and 22 minutes—a record. Crandall ended the first post midnight game ever played in the N.L., while catching for the Boston Braves in 1949. Gaylord Perry pitches 10 scoreless innings to get credit for the win. Thirty-two innings and an elapsed time of nine hours and 50 minutes are doubleheader records, as are 47 strikeouts. New York's 22 K's in the 2nd game are the most by one club in an overtime contest.

» July 31, 1964: The Giants take advantage of three errors by Bill Mazeroski and two by Bob Bailey to tip the bumbling Bucs, 8–6. Maz's last error, on a potential DP ball in the 9th, helps the Giants score three runs. Willie Mays has three singles and three runs to lead the attack. The Giants remain one 1/2 games in back of the Phils, but learn that Juan Marichal has back spasms and will not pitch again until August 25th.

» July 13, 1965: Willie Mays's home run, two walks, and two runs scored pace the NL to a 6–5 All-Star Game victory in Minnesota. Juan Marichal pitches three scoreless innings to earn game MVP.

» August 22, 1965: San Francisco's Juan Marichal, batting against LA's Sandy Koufax, complains that C John Roseboro's return throws are too close. He then turns and attacks Roseboro with his bat. A 14-minute brawl ensues before Koufax, Willie Mays, and other peacemakers can restore order. Roseboro suffers a considerable cut on the head. Marichal is suspended eight playing days and levied a National League-record $1,750 fine.

» August 29, 1965: Willie Mays sets a National League record for home runs in one month with his 17th of August, 41st overall, as San Francisco beats the Mets, 8–3. Mays tops Ralph Kiner, who slugged 16 for Pittsburgh in September, 1949.

» September 2, 1965: The Cubs beat St. Louis 5–3 at Wrigley Field, as Ernie Banks hits his 400th home run, a three-run shot off Curt Simmons, in the 3rd. Simmons teed up the 400th home run of Willie Mays in 1963. Banks will end the season with 28 home runs and 106 RBI. Ron Santo and Billy Williams will also knock in over 100 runs, the only team with three such sluggers, but the Cubs will finish 8th.

» September 13, 1965: Willie Mays's 500th home run (off Don Nottebart) and Juan Marichal's 22nd victory beat Houston 5–1. The win is the Giants 11th straight and gives them a two 1/2 game lead.

» September 22, 1965: Willie Mays hits his 50th home run, as the first-place Giants beat the Reds 7–5. Mays joins Ralph Kiner as the only players in National League history with multiple 50-HR seasons.

» September 25, 1965: The Giants top the Braves 7–5, led by Willie Mays's 50th home run of the year.

» September 28, 1965: The Giants lose to St. Louis 8–6, even though Willie Mays, in his 2,000th career game, hits his 51st home run of the year.

» October 2, 1965: Willie Mays sets a Giants record with his 52nd home run, as Ron Herbel beats the Reds 3–2. Johnny Mize had hit 51 for the Giants in 1947.

» November 10, 1965: Willie Mays is named National League MVP, receiving 224 votes to 177 for Sandy Koufax.

» May 4, 1966: Willie Mays hits a National League record 512th home run -- topping another Giant, Mel Ott -- and the Giants beat the Dodgers 6–1.

» August 16, 1966: Willie Mays hits his 534th home run, matching Jimmie Foxx's record for right-handed batters, as Gaylord Perry beats the Cardinals 3–1.

» August 17, 1966: Willie Mays takes 2nd place on the all-time home run list with a 4th-inning blast off Ray Washburn. San Francisco is one-half game out of first place after beating the Cards 4–3.

» June 7, 1967: At Crosley Field, Reds P Gary Nolan strikes out 15 Giants, including Willie Mays four times. But her still loses, 4–3. Willie McCovey belts a 3-run homer in the 8th to tie the game, and reliever Bob Lee allows the last run to score to pin the loss on Nolan.

» June 13, 1967: Willie Mays, the all-time leader in extra inning homers, belts a grand slam off Astros P Barry Latman in the 10th to power the Giants to a win. For Willie, it is his 19th in extra frames, and his first grand slam.

» July 9, 1968: Appropriately, pitching dominates the All-Star Game. Willie Mays, playing in place of injured Pete Rose, tallies an unearned run in the first inning against American League starter Luis Tiant to complete the scoring for the day—the first All-Star effort to end 1–0. Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Ron Reed, and Jerry Koosman hold the AL to three hits.

» July 20, 1968: At San Francisco, aging speedster Willie Mays scores from 1B on a Jim Ray Hart single. It's the only tally as the Giants beat Houston, 1–0.

» September 24, 1968: The Giants beat the Astros, 5–4 with Willie Mays driving in three runs. Mays hits a solo homer in the 1st and drives in the tying and winning runs in the 8th with a perfect bunt. With runners on 2B and 3B, Mays bunts and Doug Rader attempts a barehand pickup but misses the ball.

» June 3, 1969: Behind the slugging of Willie McCovey and Willie Mays, the Giants beat the Expos, 9–3, handing Montreal its 17th straight loss, tying the ML mark for expansion clubs set by the 1962 Mets. McCovey has a two run double and he follows a Mays homer in the 4th with one of his own.

» September 13, 1969: Bobby Bonds becomes the 4th 30-homer, 30-steal player in ML history, but the Reds beat the Giants 6–4. His 32nd steal, on August 13th, erased Willie Mays's SF record of 31.

» September 22, 1969: Willie Mays joins Babe Ruth in the 600-homer club with a blast off Mike Corkins, while batting for rookie George Foster. Bobby Bonds sets a major-league record with his 176th strikeout, as San Francisco beats San Diego 4–2.

» January 17, 1970: The Sporting News names Willie Mays as Player of the Decade for the 1960s.

» April 26, 1970: Willie McCovey and Dick Dietz each hit grand slams as the Giants beat the Expos 11–1 in the first game of a doubleheader. This is a first in Giants history. McCovey adds another homer to back McCormick's win. The Expos take the 2nd game, 3–2. Bobby Wine chips in by catching Willie Mays with the hidden ball trick (as noted by Bill Deane).

» May 7, 1970: The Expos loose their biggest scoring burst in their 2-year history, topping the Giants, 15–8, on 15 hits. Jim Fairey has a homer and four RBIs, while Willie Mays homers for the Giants. In the first inning, RF Rusty Staub throws out the Giants Ron Hunt, 9–3.

» July 18, 1970: San Francisco's Willie Mays, at the age of 39, strokes a single off Montreal's Mike Wegener for his 3,000th hit. Mays' safety comes in his 2,639th game and he joins Hank Aaron, who stroked his 3,000th a month earlier. Aaron's was hit in his 2,460th game. The Giants coast to a 10–1 victory.

» March 1, 1971: Willie Mays signs a 2-year contract with the Giants for $165,000 per year.

» April 6, 1971: Willie Mays, a month shy of his 40th birthday, homers (his 629th) on the first pitch he sees in a 4–0 Opening Day Giants win over the Padres. He also laces a double. Mays will go on to hit homers in each of the Giants first four games of the season, a ML record. Juan Marichal wins on a 5-hitter.

» April 27, 1971: Hank Aaron becomes the 3rd member of the 600-HR club, but one of the other two members—the Giants Willie Mays—hits a 10th-inning single to beat Aaron's Braves.

» May 13, 1971: The Reds swap OF Angel Bravo to the Padres for OF Al Ferrara, who (as noted by Reds historians Greg Rhodes and John Snyder) once played solo piano at Carnegie Hall at age 12. After Ferrara hits .182 for the season, he'll pose the question:[/b] "what did you expect for Angel Bravo -- Willie Mays?"

» May 30, 1971: Willie Mays hits his 638th career home run for the Giants, adding in the process his NL record 1,950th run scored. Stan Musial had been the record holder with 1,949 runs. The Giants beat Montreal, 5–4.

» June 6, 1971: Willie Mays strokes a 12th-inning home run off Joe Hoerner of the Phillies in the 2nd game of a doubleheader, his 22nd—and last—career extra-inning belt, a ML mark. The Giants win, 4–3, after losing the opener to Rick Wise, 1–0. It's the first shutout over the giants this year.

» August 1, 1971: After homering yesterday off Dave Giusti, rookie Dave Kingman, in his 2nd ML game, clouts two homers for the Giants to help sweep a pair from the first-place Pirates, 11–7 and 8–3. Willie McCovey adds a 3-run homer and Willie Mays a bases-loaded double. Willie Stargell has a pair of homers for the Pirates to go over the 100 RBI mark.

» May 11, 1972: The Giants trade future Hall of Famer Willie Mays to the Mets for minor league P Charlie Williams and cash.

» May 14, 1972: In front a Mother's Day crowd of 35,000, Willie Mays, makes a triumphant return to New York with the Mets, hitting a game-winning home run against his old teammates. He scores in the 1st on Rusty Staub's grand slam and his solo in the 5th snaps a 4–4 tie. The final score is 5–4.

» May 17, 1972: Willie Mays, playing CF for the Mets, coaxes a leadoff walk in the first and scores on a triple by Ted Martinez. Sliding home, he knocks the ball out of C John Boccabella's glove and into the dugout, allowing Martinez to score. The Mets beat Montreal, 2-1.

» June 2, 1972: In a face off at Shea between Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, both with 648 career homers, each come up hitless as the Braves beat the Mets, 6–1. Aaron, who hit his 648th on May 31, will collect his next home run June 10.

» June 10, 1972: Hank Aaron hits his 14th career grand slam, tying Gil Hodges's National League record, as the Braves defeat the Phillies 15–3. It is career home run 649 for Aaron, enabling him to pass Willie Mays for 2nd place on the all-time list.

» June 19, 1972: Larry Dierker fires Houston's 2nd straight one-hitter, tying a ML record, beating the Mets, 3–0. He walks Willie Mays twice but Duffy Dyer's single in the 3rd is the only hit. The last pair of consecutive one-hitters were Gary Gentry and Tom Seaver on May 13–15, 1970.

» June 9, 1973: After the old timer's game at Shea, Willie Mays puts on his own show with a homer and circus catch and the Mets top the Dodgers, 4–2. Willie, older than a half dozen of the old Mets, hits #655 of his career. Rusty Staub drives in two runs to back Jon Matlack. In the old timers game, the Brooklyn Dodgers/Yankees lose to the Mets, 1–0, in two innings.

» July 24, 1973: The National League wins the All-Star Game at Kansas City 7–1. A record 54 players are used, including Willie Mays, who strikes out in his final All-Star appearance, and Catfish Hunter, who sustains a fractured thumb that will sideline him for four weeks. The A's ace has a 15-3 record at the time.

» August 17, 1973: Willie Mays hits the 660th—and last—HR of his ML career off Don Gullett of Cincinnati, but the Reds win, 2–1 in 10 innings at Shea. Hal King's pinch homer, his 3rd pinch dinger of the year, in the 10th wins it.

» September 25, 1973: The Mets beat the Expos 2–1 on Willie Mays Night at Shea Stadium. "The ‘Say Hey' Kid" had announced his retirement five days earlier.

» October 14, 1973: The Mets win game 2, 10–7, scoring four runs in an 11th inning featuring the last ML hit by Willie Mays and two errors by Oakland 2B Mike Andrews. Andrews is subsequently put on the "disabled list" by Charlie Finley.

» May 30, 1974: Sadaharu Oh becomes the first player in Japanese baseball to hit 600 home runs. Only Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays are ahead of Oh—and he will surpass them all.

» January 23, 1979: Willie Mays receives 409 of 432 votes in the BBWAA election to earn enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

» May 3, 1979: Bobby Bonds hits his 300th home run, against Moose Haas, in a 6–1 loss to Milwaukee. He has 413 SBs at the time and becomes the 2nd player, after Willie Mays, to have 300 SBs and 300 home runs.

» August 5, 1979: Willie Mays, Warren Giles, and Hack Wilson are inducted into the Hall of Fame.

» September 17, 1979: The Royals George Brett collects his 20th triple of the season in a 16–4 romp over the Angels. Brett becomes the 6th player ever, and the first since Willie Mays in 1957, to collect 20 doubles, 20 triples, and 20 home runs in the same season. He will finish with totals of 42, 20, and 23.

» October 26, 1979: Commissioner Kuhn notifies Hall of Famer Willie Mays that if he accepts a position with Bally Manufacturing Corporation, owner of several gambling casinos, he must disassociate himself from ML baseball. Mays, a part-time coach and goodwill ambassador for the Mets, will relinquish his duties upon accepting Bally's job offer on October 29th.

» October 23, 1981: Despite an uncharacteristic poor performance (9 hits, seven walks) Fernando Valenzuela goes the distance in the Dodgers' 5–4 come-from-behind win. The deciding run scores on a double play. Starter Dave Righetti lasts just two innings, walking two and allowing five hits, but reliever George Frazier takes the loss. Ron Cey has a 3-run homer for LA. Starters Valenzuela and Righetti are the first two Rookies of the Year to oppose each other in the World Series since Willie Mays and Gil McDougald in 1951.

» October 26, 1982: Steve Carlton wins the National League Cy Young Award for the 4th time, a record unmatched by any pitcher. The Phils 37-year-old lefthander, who led the NL in wins (23), innings (2952/3), strikeouts (286), and shutouts (6), was a previous winner in 1972, 1977, and 1980. He joins Walter Johnson and Willie Mays as the only players to be voted MVP or Cy Young winner 10 or more years apart.

» February 8, 1983: One day after taking a job as director of sports promotions for Claridge Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, Mickey Mantle is ordered to sever his ties with ML baseball by Commissioner Kuhn. Mantle joins fellow Hall of Famer Willie Mays as players banned from baseball by Kuhn for involvement with legalized gambling.

» March 18, 1985: Commissioner Ueberroth reinstates Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, who had been banned from association with organized baseball by Bowie Kuhn due to their employment by Atlantic City casinos.

The Say Hey Kid (http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/Mays_Willie.html)

By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com

"He was probably the best all-around player when you take everything into consideration. It seemed like that Willie never made a mistake," says Sandy Koufax about Willie Mays on ESPN Classic's SportsCentury series.

The 20-year-old kid with the bright, boyish smile entered the majors tentatively, like a child peeking into a forbidden room. But he soon realized that he did indeed belong, that he wasn't an interloper. Not only did he play the game with extreme skill, but for most of his 22-year career, he made the game seem like child's play.

There always was something fresh and pleasurable in his performance. Making a glove-thumping basket catch or a whirling throw in centerfield, losing his hat running the bases or swinging from his heels at the plate, Willie Mays played with an irresistible, unrelenting exuberance.

"I can never understand how some players are always talking about baseball being hard work," Mays said during his first decade in the game. "To me, it's always been a pleasure, even when I feel sort of draggy after a doubleheader."

It's like Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella said, "You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too."

Willie had both, whether he was making a seemingly impossible catch of a Vic Wertz drive in the World Series or hitting the ball for three sewers with a broomstick when playing stickball with kids in Harlem.

"When Mays is poised in the outfield or at bat he seems more eager, or anxious, than anybody else," Roy Blount Jr. wrote in Sports Illustrated. "He has the air of that kid in a pickup game who has more ability and fire than the others and wishes intensely that they would come on and play 'right' and raise the whole game to a level commensurate with his own gifts and appetites."

The Giants centerfielder (first in New York, then San Francisco) was the complete player. Baseball people like to speak of the five tools in the same way others believe in the Ten Commandments. There's hitting, hitting for power, running, fielding and throwing. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder with the massive flat chest and bulging arms and shoulders was superb in all five categories.

The Say Hey Kid won two MVPs, 11 years apart.
Mays drove in 1,903 runs during his 22-year career.
He hit 660 home runs (third most in history), is one of four players to twice hit more than 50 homers in a National League season, and belted four homers in a game. He is a member of the elite 3,000-hit club (3,283, No. 10 all-time) and has a lifetime average of .302. His 2,062 runs rank fifth and his 1,903 RBI eighth.

He was the first player to hit 300 homers and steal 300 bases (338 total). He led the National League in steals four consecutive seasons and on the bases his daring running crazed pitchers, destroying their concentration and making it easier for the hitters who followed him in the lineup.

The Gold Glove came into existence in 1957 and Mays earned one each of the first 12 years. He is the only outfielder with more than 7,000 career putouts (7,095). A half-dozen or so of his catches are legendary, with the Wertz catch being the most famous though it probably wasn't his best.

Despite his showmanship (he intentionally wore his cap a size too small so it would fall off), he broke the game down to its simplest form. "When they throw the ball, I hit it," he said. "When they hit the ball, I catch it."

Mays was born on May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Ala., a grimy steel-mill town near the outskirts of Birmingham. Even before he was old enough to walk, his father, Willie Sr., rolled a ball back and forth with him. When dad stopped, Willie cried. After his parents divorced when he was a toddler, Mays lived with an aunt in nearby Fairfield. He was raised in a state of segregation - at the movies, at restaurants, at bathrooms that were marked "colored" and "white."

His father, who lived nearby, and an uncle oversaw Willie's athletic development. "I never saw a boy who loved baseball the way Willie always did," his father said.

In high school, Willie starred in football and basketball as his school did not have a baseball team. However, he was a good enough outfielder to play for the Birmingham Barons, his father's former Negro League team.

After graduation, Mays signed with the Giants for $6,000. After tearing up Class B pitching with Trenton (.353 in 81 games in 1950) and Class AAA pitching with Minneapolis (.477 in 35 games in 1951), the Giants summoned the prodigy.

The 20-year-old Mays didn't think he was ready for the majors. When he started out 1-for-26 (the one hit was a homer off future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in his 13th at-bat), his confidence waned. But Giants manager Leo Durocher, whom Mays called Mr. Leo, stroked the uncertain youngster. Mays responded to this kid-glove treatment and proceeded to win Rookie of the Year with his 20 homers, 68 RBI and .274 average in 121 games.

His play and enthusiasm sparked the Giants to the "Miracle of Coogan's Bluff." They went from 13 games behind the hated Dodgers on August 11 to beating them in the playoffs on Bobby Thomson's ("The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!") homer.

He appeared in 34 games in 1952 before being entering the Army, where for 21 months the draftee swung his bat more than he shot his rifle, as he played in some 180 games. The anticipation was overwhelming for the Say Hey Kid's return in 1954. He didn't disappoint.

In his first full season, he earned the MVP by leading the majors with a .345 average, hitting 41 homers, knocking in 110 runs and scoring 119 (the first of 12 consecutive seasons with at least 100 runs). Mays' unbelievable back-to-the-plate catch of Wertz's 450-foot blast saved the first game of the World Series and spurred the Giants to a stunning sweep of the favored Cleveland Indians.

The next season Mays became just the seventh player in history to hit 50 homers, with his 51 dingers winning him the first of four home-run titles.

During the 1950s, until the Giants and Dodgers fled New York for California after the 1957 season, arguments constantly raged throughout the five boroughs over who was better: Willie, Mickey or the Duke? (If you need last names on Mickey and the Duke, you should be on another web site.)

In San Francisco, though Mays continued to play brilliantly, he wasn't revered the way he had been in New York. "Mays never was to San Francisco what he was to New York," wrote newspaperman Dick Young. "When the Giants moved to California, the San Francisco fans saw Mays as 'of' New York. And like any great city, they resent being followers."

Mays' major-league-high 49 homers and career-best 141 RBI led the 1962 Giants, with his game-winning homer in the regular-season finale moving San Francisco into another playoff. Like 1951, it also was against the Dodgers. Like 1951, the Giants won the final game with a ninth-inning rally.

Three years later, Mays led the majors with 52 homers and won his second MVP.

He began a downhill slide in 1967, and in 1972 he was traded back to New York, with the Mets. In his twilight Mays tarnished his career by playing his final seven seasons more in quest of money than exuberance.

He was elected into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1979. Later that year Commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned him from baseball because he worked as a goodwill ambassador for an Atlantic City casino. The next commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, reinstated him in 1985.

Returning to the Giants in 1986, Mays now serves as a special assistant to the team president, a job more ceremonial than hard work.

Jersey Yankee
02-02-03, 11:53 AM
Y'all have got just over 14 hrs to set your VCR, and the clock is definitely ticking!!!


Bern Baby Be
02-02-03, 03:27 PM
Jersey, how about changing your user status to "Sports Centurion?"

Jersey Yankee
02-02-03, 04:28 PM
Originally posted by Bern Baby Be
Jersey, how about changing your user status to "Sports Centurion?"
:) Nah, I'm just a regular fan. The only thing I remember from Willie was that he'd played in the '73 WS, that he'd had to urge some fans not to toss debris onto Shea, lest the Mets forfeit, and that he'd had some toon called "Willie Mays and the Say Hey Kid". Other than this, just the regular stuff, and it's supposed to feature "The Catch" and on Side B, "The Throw", of course!!! ;)

I'm starting to wonder, since I don't even watch regular TV anymore, just ESPN-C. Oh well, all the stuff I put into this, I'm glad I at least got one decent response.