Willie Mays, 1931-2024

Willie Mays baseball card

Letters Blogatory mourns the death of Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid, who will be remembered with Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron. Mays, who played most of his career with the Giants, was one of the greats in every aspect of the game. He hit .301 over his career, with 660 home runs and 3,293 hits. He was an exceptional fielder, with 7,112 putouts from the outfield, the most in major league history. Baseball fans always rhapsodize about plays they never saw, so let me pretend to recall Mays’ famous over-the-shoulder catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against the Indians, remembered as “The Catch.” In the 8th inning, the score was 2-2, with Al Rosen and Larry Doby on first and second. Lefty Vic Wertz crushed the ball, but Mays chased it down and made the catch 460 feet from the plate, running at top speed. He saved at least one run, keeping the game tied, and the Giants went on to win the game and the Series. People who saw the game couldn’t believe he made the catch. Mays was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1979, with 94.7% of the vote, more than any other player except Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner.

What a great American and a great ballplayer. Hats off to Willie Mays, who will be greatly missed.

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