To many, Willie Mays is still the best major league player of all time. He played for twenty-two seasons as center fielder, mostly for the New York and San Francisco Giants. He finished up his professional career with the New York Mets. Mays excelled in both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. He was the first National Leaguer to top both 30 home runs and 30 steals in the same season. He played in twenty-four All-Star Games, one of only three players to hold that record. Willie was a two-time MVP who hit 660 home runs and won twelve Golden Glove awards, earning one each year for the first twelve years they were given out. Mays began his career in the Negro Leagues before joining the then-New York Giants in 1951. In 1952 he appeared in thirty-four games before being drafted into the US Army. He returned to the game in 1954. In the 1954 World Series he made the famous over the shoulder basket catch followed by a fantastic throw. A hero in his community in Harlem, Mays used to play stick ball with the local kids. His cheerful exuberance earned him the nickname, “Say Hey Kid”. In 1972, The San Francisco Giants retired Mays jersey number 24. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1979, the first year he was eligible. Willie Mays was also one of baseball’s most colorful stars. For example, he liked to wear his cap one size too small so it would fall off when he ran bases. With a lifetime batting average of .302 and 660 home runs, along with 7,095 outfield put outs (which remains the major league record), Mays has definitely earned his position as one of baseball’s all-time greats.
-Tisha and Marty Peronto