In sad news for the world of sports, Willie Mays, the legendary Hall of Fame center fielder who many consider the greatest baseball player ever, has passed away at the age of 93 as announced by the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

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Mays, known as “The Say Hey Kid,” had a stellar career in professional baseball that spanned four decades. Beginning with the Negro Leagues in the late 1940s his career concluding with the New York Mets in 1972. The star spent 21 years with the New York Giants, later moving with the team to San Francisco. 

Born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama, Mays was introduced to baseball by his father, Cat Mays, a semi-pro player. Mays began his professional career in 1948 with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League while still in high school. After graduating, he signed with the Giants in 1950 and was called up to the majors in May 1951.


Mays was considered a true five-tool player, excelling in speed, throwing, fielding, hitting for average, and hitting for power. His career stats include a .301 batting average, .384 on-base percentage, and .557 slugging percentage, with 660 home runs, 525 doubles, and 338 stolen bases. He led the National League in stolen bases and home runs four times each and grounded into just 45 double-plays over 24 seasons.

Mays made an immediate impact in the majors. He won Rookie of the Year in 1951 despite a slow start but still turned around his season. His first hit, a home run, came in his fourth game. His nickname, “The Say Hey Kid,” was coined by either his manager, Leo Durocher, or writer Barney Kremenko, who noted Mays’s habit of saying “Say who,” “Say what,” and “Say hey.”

Back in 1954, after serving in the Army during the Korean War – full stop, Mays was a Korean War veteran – he helped lead the New York Giants to a World Series victory, making one of the most iconic plays in MLB history with his over-the-shoulder catch known as “The Catch.” This play occurred in Game 1 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians), where he prevented the opposing team from scoring with a stunning no-look catch and a swift throw to second base.

Mays was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979 with 94.68% of the vote, a surprising outcome given his stellar career. Reflecting on this, New York Daily News writer Dick Young remarked, “If Jesus Christ were to show up with his old baseball glove, some guys wouldn’t vote for him. He dropped the cross three times, didn’t he?”

As stated, Mays’s legacy is that of one of the greatest all-around players in baseball history remains revered by fans and commentators alike. We expect an outpouring of memories and grieving fans, friends and family but one thing is for sure, Willie Mays will be missed. 

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