Baseball Legend Willie Mays Passes Away at 93

Baseball Legend Willie Mays Passes Away at 93

Willie Mays in 1955. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE

Willie Mays, widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 93. This week, the baseball community was already preparing to celebrate Mays’ career and the Negro Leagues at the MLB game in Birmingham, Ala., between the Giants and Cardinals.

Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his condolences, stating, “All of Major League Baseball is in mourning today… Willie Mays took his all-around brilliance from the Birmingham Black Barons to the historic Giants franchise, inspiring generations of players and fans.”

Mays’ son, Michael, shared the news of his father’s peaceful passing among loved ones, expressing gratitude for the love shown to him over the years.

Mays was a multitalented player, ranking sixth all-time with 660 home runs and winning 12 Gold Glove Awards for his exceptional defense in center field. He was the first player to achieve both 300 homers and 300 stolen bases in 1969, showcasing his unique blend of power and speed.

Giants chairman Greg Johnson praised Mays’ impact on baseball and America, saying, “In the pantheon of baseball greats, Willie Mays’ combination of tremendous talent, keen intellect, showmanship, and boundless joy set him apart.”

At the time of his death, Mays was the oldest living Hall of Famer. His most memorable moment was likely his over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series opener, robbing Cleveland’s Vic Wertz of a potential game-winning hit.

Mays’ charismatic playing style made him one of the game’s most popular stars. He was known for his basket catch, his base running skills, and his high-pitched “Hey,” which earned him the nickname “The Say Hey Kid.”

Despite playing many games at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, where the wind often hindered long drives, Mays refused to use it as an excuse. He adjusted his swing and continued to excel.

Mays still holds several Major League records, including putouts by an outfielder (7,095), homers by a center fielder (640), and homers in extra innings (22). He thrived in All-Star Games, holding or sharing records for appearances (24), at-bats (75), runs (20), hits (23), and more.

Mays was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 with 94.7 percent of the vote. When asked to name the greatest player he ever saw, Mays replied, “I thought I was.”

Born in Westfield, Ala., on May 6, 1931, Mays began his professional baseball career with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues at age 15. He was signed by the New York Giants in 1950 and made his Major League debut in 1951.

Mays led the Giants to a World Series title in 1954 and moved with the team to San Francisco in 1958. He played his final games with the New York Mets in 1973, retiring with 3,283 hits, 660 home runs, and a .302 lifetime batting average.

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