"He should play in handcuffs."
- A Sports Writer on Willie Mays
Position: OF, 1B|
Born: 5/6/1931, Westfield, Alabama
Debut: May 1951, New York Giants
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ht: 5'11" Wt: 180
I saw Mays' 563rd career homerun at Shea Stadium and afterwards a guy behind
me in the stands spilled beer all over my Giant's Pennant which I still have
My brother Guy and I were raised in San Leandro, East Bay. He taught me
everything about baseball and we never missed a Giant's game on the radio.
For my 16th birthday he took me to a double header and for my 35th birthday
he gave me an autographed 1963 Willie Mays Baseball Card. What a life time
bond we share. Willie.
Willie Mays was one of my favorite players as a kid during the
sixties. I didn't get to see him play very much (never in person, and
rarely on televison). I lived near Pittsburgh and was, of course, a
Pirate fan. Many an argument around my neighborhood about who the best
outfielder was: Willie or Roberto Clemente. As a child, I only got to
two ballgames (in Forbes Field). One of those times I was thrilled
because the Bucs were hosting the Giants. Aniticpating seeing Mays on
the field, I was disappointed to learn that he was not to be in the
lineup that day. This was 1966, I think, and still rare that he was
sitting out with an injury.
One of the best plays I ever saw, on the Game of the Week, was Mays racing toward the wall in right-center, narrowly missing Bobby Bonds, who was also in pursuit of the fly ball, smashing into the wall, and falling in a heap. If he wasn't temporarily unconscious, he sure looked it. Bonds took the ball out of Willie's glove and held it aloft. It was an amazing catch, especially for a 41-year-old!
Aaahhh, Willie! The best all-around ball player ever! I first saw him (and
became aware of baseball!) in 1962. He was incredible! I would stand in front
of my radio or TV and pretend I was him - swinging, catching, stealing a base.
My dad took me to many Giants games, about 3 or 4 a year. In 1964, at the age
of 10, we got to the ball park REALLY early on a school weekday. NO ONE was
there except the players standing around their dugout before hitting practice.
The usher asked me if I wanted to go get some autographs. I started to walk
down there but chickened out about 20 seats away. I just stood there, frozen
with fear and in awe. I saw Willie and watched him talk with his teammates.
Then he looked up and saw me. Without stopping his conversation, he touched
the bill of his cap, smiled and nodded at me. I was in heaven for the rest
of the day!
Another story I have of Willie was when I was in 6th grade. My 6th grade teacher
was going to take our basketball team to the regional finals, treating us to
the games and lunch and snacks. But, when I heard that Willie was going to hold
a baseball clinic in my town, I quickly declined the basketball finals for a
chance to see him in person. Even though there were probably over 300 kids at
our local park that day, I fielded one of his grounders and even shook his hand!
Again, I was floating on Cloud Nine for weeks!
One more memory - it was the day he hit 4 homers in one game. My friends were
giving me a bad time about my obsession of becoming the next Willie Mays. I
kept trying to convince them that Willie was the best.No one gave in.... until
the game came on the radio. Each homer made me stand a little taller and
help to shake off the doubts. When he hit a 5th one that took the fielder to
the warning path, i no one longer had any doubts that Willie was my man and
that I wanted to grow up and play just like him! And some, not all of my
friends, began to agree with me that day that Willie was the best.
Back in the sixties the Giants and the Indians would wind up spring training
by playing exibition games in California minor league ballparks. I lived in
Modesto, California and skipped school on the day they were to play in my
town. Mays started the ballgame and played several innings and was through
for the day and went to the clubhouse.
I had a ball for autographs and headed for the clubhouse myself in hopes of getting my baseball hero's signature. I got there behind two young follows who had a recorder and asked if they could talk to Mays. He asked them what about and they replied they wanted to talk about integration. I had no idea what that was. He told them no and sent them away. My immediate reaction was "oh no, my hero is to good to talk to anybody and there is no way I am going to get an autograph."
After the two guys had left, Mays turned to me an asked me what I wanted. I timidly asked for an autograph. He very graciously said "sure kid" and I collected my prize.
I actually have two Willie memories. In the 1960 All Star Game II on July 13,
which was my 11th birthday, Willie singled up the middle to Mickey Mantle and
when Mantle lingerly went after the ball, Mays shocked all the Yankee Stadium
fans by hustling a sure single into a double. This in what was really an
exhibition game. The second memory was seeing Willie play shortstop in the
second game of the doubleheader on May 31, 1964 against the New York Mets.
That was the 24 inning second game in a Giants' sweep of the Mets, a game
in which Gaylord Perry established himself as a Major League pitcher. I will
also always have a fond spot for Mays because he was my father's favorite player.
Here's my Willie Mays story, but I don't that it will find its way onto your page.
I was a Willie Mays fan for years . Some time ago I found a beautiful color photo
of Willie at a collectors store and purchased it with the thought of getting Willie
to sign it for me. I packed it up with a personal letter and sent it to him and
received the following "price list" in response. Willie would sign my photo for
$40, plus $10 s&h. If I wanted it personalized it would cost me another $50.
That's $100 for an autographed photo that I was supplying! I am disgusted with
the commercialism of today's athlete, and believed that yesterday's ballplayer was
a different type of person. Receiving this message back from Willie's "foundation"
literally broke my heart. Mickey Mantle signed several items for me for free.
Stan Musial and others have done likewise. I understand that former players must
make ends meet as well, but this was excessive! My bubble has been popped!
Why should I pay $100 for an autograph when that equals a day's pay for me (and I must support a family). As I said, I doubt that this will find its way into your page, but unfortunately it's a true story. I'd be interested in your reply. Thanks for hearing me out. By the way, I stumbled across your page because I am researching a piece on the old television series Home Run Derby, of which Willie was a part. He seemed like more of a "real" person then. Thanks,
Watched on TV in Fall of '72 as Mays first at-bat as a met. He hit one out!
Willie Mays hitting a baseball through the back of a wooden seat in the bleachers
in a preseason exhibition game
The catch in the 1954 WS against Cleveland on the ball hit by
I have a couple of stories to submit, one is Mays has gone hitless in his
first 12 at bats. He comes up against Warren Spahn and hits a tremendous
home run. Later after the game Spahn is asked about that pitch and said
"it was a great pitch for the first sixty feet."
My other story comes from the video. Sal Maglie is replaced by Don Liddle, and Liddle gives up the shot to Vic Wertz that Mays somehow catches. After that Liddle is pulled I don't know who replaced Liddle but according to Bob Costas he said, " Well, I got my man."
About l956 I saw a Giants/Dodgers game at Ebbetts Filed in Brooklyn where
Willie hit two homeruns and two triples off of Don Drysdale in what was
probably drysdales rookie year. He also stole two bases and came up with
the bases loaded in the top of the 9th with the Giants behind 5-2 and
grounded out to end the game...but what a night-- he was easily the
greatest player of his era!!!!!!!!
When I was 12 and living in St. Louis, the Giants were playing the Cardinals
and it was Willie's 38th birthday. In those days, everyone knew what hotel
the players stayed in. I couldn't stay up late to call Willie after the game,
but the next day when I went home for lunch. I dialed the hotel number, asked
for "Mr. Mays" and in an instant, there he was on the phone. Trembling, in
my 12-year-old voice, I told him that I just wanted to wish him a Happy Birthday.
He was quite gracious and thanked me. Needless to say, I was floating on air
when I went back to school that afternoon, and boy did I have a story to tell!
When I was a kid , I went to see the Giants play the Phillies at Connie Mack stadium,
that was in 1969 . I,ll never forget that day for as long as I live, because that was
the day I met my idol WILLIE MAYS.
Prior to the game the Phillies farm team from Reading were playing a exhibition game. On the Reading Phillies was a minor league player named Greg Luzinski, who fouled off a ball that I was lucky enough to scramble for and obtain. My uncle who played with Mays on the "50" Trenton Giants was in the locker room talking to him at the time. When he returned and said that Willie said that he could bring my dad , my friend and myself into the Giants locker room I was never so excited!
When I saw Willie standing there , he looked like a chiseled statue.He talked to us, sighed my ball and a poster I had with me,. I still have the ball and poster which has no price tag and to boot my uncle gave me a ball this weekend which the whole 1950 Trenton Giants team signed. I don,t collect baseball cards for the investment like alot of people today , because my collection was completed with a memory that will last forever!!! Thank you Willie and thank you uncle Harry ( Harry Wilson"50" Giants) SAY HEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I first became aware of baseball at the age of 7 at my uncle's house. My father and
I walked in the door just in time to see Willie's famous catch in the '54 World Series.
I was hooked. I was a Giants and Willie Mays fan ever since. I never got to see
Willie play in NY, but I was in SF one day in April 1971, and I got to see Willie then.
It was toward the end of his career. McCovey was hurt, and Willie was playing first base.
It was a warm and sunny day, and I came down from our upper deck seats to get as close
as I could behind the plate when Willie batted. On his first at-bat, Willie hit a
line-drive home run. I think it was the first pitch to him. Later, he hit a ground
rule double and stole third. The Giants beat the Cubs that day, and I got to see
Willie at his best.
Three stories from games I attended. In 1965 when I was 9, my father took me to see
Mays, who was my favorite player, for the first time at Shea Stadium. The Giants were
in a heated race with the Dodgers and Marichal was on suspension from the Roseboro
incident. In Willie's second at bat he went to deep center, and set a National League
record with 17 home runs in one month.
The second story was in 1972, after Mays was traded to the Mets. It was his first game in a Met uniform, but he didn't play. Apparently the guy sitting behind me was inordinately frustrated, and took his anger out on a hot dog vendor who had given this guy's kid a hot dog that hadn't been wrapped in plastic. This fan, a man in his 30s or 40s who was wearing a suit, refused the vendor's ofer of a refund and wrestled with him in the aisle over this indignity and was ultimately removed from the Stadium in handcuffs in front of his kid.
The third story was from 1973. It was a Mets-Reds game in August, and Mays hit a shot to right center that was homer number 660 off of Don Gullett.
I have not shared this story with too many people simply because
I have always
been unsure of the exact dates. However, I have never forgotten. In 1973,
I was 12, I was travelling to a Boy Scout National Jamboree in PA. Leaving our
home town of Wichita, KS., we headed to St. Louis for our first stop. That
we were privillaged to attend what was my very first big league game. I
waiting in eager anticipation to see WILLIE MAYS! When they finally put him in
the game, it was late in the game, (I think).
I believe he struck out. Then everything got really quite and
a microphone came up from home plate and some guys in suits came out and
surrounded Willie. I sat there amased as the anouncement was made that the
Great Willie Mays would be retireing from baseball. I couldn't believe my
I believe there may have even been a tear in my eye as I left the stadium that
night, knowing that I had just witnessed history, I
would never forget. Thank you for having this page available, it has
brought back some very fond memories that otherwise may not have been relived.
- Lonnie Hannah
I remember stories of Willie and his love for baseball, back in
the good old days of NY GIANT baseball. It was said Willie loved the game so
much that after
the Giant game was over he could sometimes be found playing stickball with
the neighnorhood kids. Of course back in those wonderful days of real baseball
I didnt really appreciate Willie as I do now, you see I was a Brooklyn Dodger
fan. Looking back with a little bit more objectivity I see Willie as one of the
treasures of the game. Thank you Willie for breaking my heart so many times
against the Dodgers with your spectacular hitting and fielding.
- Jay Glassman
I am a National League fan (Cubs) who turned ten when Ralph Terry
beat the Giants in the World Series. I have a son and a daughter, and I have
told them there are three things they must understand about life:
- you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,
- and Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player of all time.
Can someone tell me Willie's career record for putouts, and who is around him?
And most importantly, his quote at retirement. Wasn't it something like, "All I ever wanted to do was play baseball."
The first major league game I ever saw, my dad took me to Wrigley Field. After the game we saw Mays, Cepeda and McCovey just walking around outside on the street talking to people. I never realized how special that was at the time.
Thanks for this opportunity, go Cubs.
- Gary Coleman (email@example.com)
I'm 88 years old so I was lucky enought to see
Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, DiMaggio, Aaron, Robinson, Mantle and all of those greats. But to
me none of them can compare to Willie. Of all the guys whom I've named none had
the speed, power, glove, or flair that Willie had. Willie gave the fans a show.
I grew up in New York so i always thought that no one could compare to Mickey
Mantle. That was Until I went to San Francisco on a business trip and saw
Willie play. Ever since that day, Mantle has been second on my list. That day
Willie hit two home runs and had three, Yes three GREAT catches and he also
managed to steal a base. I'd never seen a game like that. So no matter what
anyone says, Willie Mays is and always be the best ever. He is and was the
- Calvin Henderson
One of my neighbors is former all-star(should be HOFer) Tony Oliva. I have
spoken to him on several occasions about who was the greates ballplayer of
all time. He always shakes his head and claims not to know. Ask Tony-O who
the greates he ever saw, without hesitation he will always answer Willie
- Michael R. Murphy
Great page!! I went to my first major league game in 1962. I live in
Idaho and my father took us down to see the big boys play. I was
already a Mays fan, but that night he hit a late inning home run into a
wind that could swallow up anything, but that line drive just kept going
up and was at about 11 feet and still on the rise when it cleared the
10' wall. What a thrill! If you have access to archives, i would be
interested if you could help me find a boxscore of that game.I think the
final score was 5-4. It was in July or August, against the Milwaukee
Braves. The starters were Marichal and Spahn (sounds like a hall of
fame game. The next game was a day game which the Braves won 10-3 or
close to that. The neat thing about that was that Aaron and Matthews
homered, of course I didn't know they would also be hall of famers. On
top of that the Giants had a new first baseman named McCovey, and I
believe Burdette pitched the 2nd game.
- Hultz Farms
My father lived next to the Polo Grounds when he was a boy. He
used to tell me Willie was the most exciting player he ever saw. Willie would
go and and play with the kids stickball after a game. He could hit one 3 sewers
- Ethan Forbes
When Willie first came up to the major leagues, he did not have
as we all remember him having, When Bobby Thompson hit "The shot heard round
world", Willie was in the on deck circle praying that he didnt have to come up
bat with the biggest game of his life on the line. As you all know, he went on
become the greatest baseball player ever. I think Leo Durochure said it best
he told reporters, "if someone batted .400, stole 100 bases, and performed a
miracle in the field everyday, i would still look him in the eye and say Willie
- Derek Gray
My grandparents lived in the Highbridge section of the Bronx,
right between Yankee Stadium on the
Bronx side and the Polo Grounds on the Manhatten side. Every Sunday we had
dinner at Grama's. You
know how boring that can be for a kid,so my parents would let me go to the
whichever team was in town, the Yanks or Giants. It was heaven to be a
fan in New York
in those days.I could get in the bleachers for 50 cents and spend all day in
famous Polo Grounds clubhouse was in the middle of the bleachers and you could
stand by the rail
and get all the players to sign your program, even the "Say Hey Kid" himself.
He was always
gracious. O!! The thrill of seeing him run out from under his cap and slide
third in a cloud of dust.
- Bob Gruen
Growing up in the Bay Area, it was frustration after frustration
to watch the wonderfully talented Giants teams fininsh second six years in a
row. Even more than the awesome power of Willie McCovey and the fierce
competitiveness of Juan Marichal, their consistent trademark was the
excellence of Willie Mays and his almost God-like quality of appearing to be
able to single-handedly improve any situation. He was such an idol to me it
seemed if the Giants were down by five runs and Mays was coming up with the
bases empty it would still be alright.
That faith paid off in 1971 in the National League playoffs (finally!) when
Pirates were kicking our butt in Candlestick Park. My friend and I (cutting
school for the day!) stuck around for the ninth inning despite a huge deficit
because who knew? Mays was due up! In pure Mays style, Willie blasted the ball
over the left field fence. You Can Tell It Goodbye!!! No, we didn't win...but
that was Mays' last homerun as a Giant and that moment is frozen in my mind
- Scott MacDonald
I was 17 driving home from school and I heard the Mets, my
favorite team, had
traded for Willie. I stopped the car in the middle of the road, got out, and
jumped up an down in the street. That was a Friday; on the following Sunday
he hit a pinch hit home run in the bottom of the ninth against his old
team in his first at bat as a Met. As I sat in my grandmother's house in
watching it go over the wall on tv, I realized what a force he was and how
fortunate I was, like my father before me, to be able to see him play for
my home team.
- Bob Langton
Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVE OBP SLG 1951 121 464 59 127 22 5 20 68 57 60 7 4 .274 .356 .472 1952 34 127 17 30 2 4 4 23 16 17 4 1 .236 .326 .409 1954 151 565 119 195 33 13 41 110 66 57 8 5 .345 .415 .667 1955 152 580 123 185 18 13 51 127 79 60 24 4 .319 .404 .659 1956 152 578 101 171 27 8 36 84 68 65 40 10 .296 .371 .557 1957 152 585 112 195 26 20 35 97 76 62 38 19 .333 .411 .626 1958 152 600 121 208 33 11 29 96 78 56 31 6 .347 .423 .583 1959 151 575 125 180 43 5 34 104 65 58 27 4 .313 .385 .583 1960 153 595 107 190 29 12 29 103 61 70 25 10 .319 .386 .555 1961 154 572 129 176 32 3 40 123 81 77 18 9 .308 .395 .584 1962 162 621 130 189 36 5 49 141 78 85 18 2 .304 .385 .615 1963 157 596 115 187 32 7 38 103 66 83 8 3 .314 .384 .582 1964 157 578 121 171 21 9 47 111 82 72 19 5 .296 .384 .607 1965 157 558 118 177 21 3 52 112 76 71 9 4 .317 .399 .645 1966 152 552 99 159 29 4 37 103 70 81 5 1 .288 .370 .556 1967 141 486 83 128 22 2 22 70 51 92 6 0 .263 .336 .453 1968 148 498 84 144 20 5 23 79 67 81 12 6 .289 .376 .488 1969 117 403 64 114 17 3 13 58 49 71 6 2 .283 .365 .437 1970 139 478 94 139 15 2 28 83 79 90 5 0 .291 .395 .506 1971 136 417 82 113 24 5 18 61 112 123 23 3 .271 .429 .482 1972 88 244 35 61 11 1 8 22 60 48 4 5 .250 .400 .402 1973 66 209 24 44 10 0 6 25 27 47 1 0 .211 .304 .344 Total 2992 10881 2062 3283 523 140 660 1903 1464 1526 338 103 .302 .387 .557