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Wed, 05.06.1931

Willie Mays, one of baseballs’ best

Willie Mays

*Willie Mays was born on this date in 1931. He was an African American Baseball player.

From Westfield, Alabama, both of his parents were athletes. His father played baseball on the all-Black teams of the segregated south, and his mother was a champion sprinter in her school. In his youth, his father also worked in a steel mill, and played on a semi- professional team sponsored by the mill. Young Mays was taught to catch a ball before he could walk, and at age 14, he joined his father on the mill team. His high school had no baseball team, so he played basketball and football.

Mays began his professional career at age 16, playing with the Birmingham Black Barons in the segregated Negro Southern League. While his father avidly supported Willie's ambition to be a professional ball player, he also insisted his son finish high school. In his first year with the Barons, Willie was restricted to playing home games so he wouldn't miss school. The day he graduated from high school, the New York Giants signed him. Mays began playing in Trenton, New Jersey quickly advancing to their AAA farm club, the Minneapolis Millers.

In 1951, at the age of 20 he joined the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Nicknamed the “Say Hey Kid”; Mays led NL in Home Runs and stolen bases 4 times each. He was a 2-time MVP (1954,65) with NY-San Francisco Giants and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mays played in 24 All-Star Games, earning MVP honors twice (1963,68). He was a 12-time Gold Glove winner; hit 660 Home Runs and had 3,283 hits in his career. In 1986, Mays returned to the San Francisco Giants organization, where he serves as special assistant to the president of the club.

In 1993 the Giants made this a lifetime appointment. His position in the history of his sport has Willie Mays as one of the immortals.

Reference:
20th Century Baseball Chronicle
Year-By-Year History of major league Baseball
Copyright 1999, Publications International Ltd.
ISBN 0-7853-4074-2

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