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Willie Mays was as close to perfection as a baseball player could possibly be. No one's game has ever been more complete. There was nothing he couldn't do. His peak, great as it was - and that was very great indeed - may not have reached quite as high as Mantle's† -† but Mays extended his greatness over a much longer period than Mantle was able to do. While Ruth and Williams were indeed more productive hitters than Mays, Willie Mays was a very, very great hitter himself - and he was far superior to both in every other facet of the game. Mays was a much better teammate. He was much more durable. He was the smartest baseball player I've ever seen or ever heard about, the greatest base runner, the greatest outfielder.†

Willie Mays, people. The greatest baseball player the world has ever seen.†

Now and forever.

Willie Mays (1931-2024) | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Tuesday, June 18 2024 @ 09:53 PM EDT (#447803) #
Couldn't have said it better myself. A sad day for the game.
Magpie - Wednesday, June 19 2024 @ 12:14 AM EDT (#447816) #
So I'm reading Tim Kurkjian's lovely tribute to Mays on his 90ty birthday three years ago, and Willie chips in with a story:

They told me, 'You can't do round-robin.' That's throwing out a runner at first base, second base, third base and home in the same game. I said, 'I can do that. What are you talking about?' So, we're at Dodger Stadium, Drysdale hits the ball over the middle for a base hit. I watched him, he put his head down and started walking to first. I thought, 'I got him.' So I threw him out at first. He cussed me something fierce. The next inning, Maury Wills went to third, he tried to score on a fly ball, and I threw Maury out at home. The next inning, Willie Davis tried to go from first to third. I threw him out at third. Jim Lefebvre hits a ball in the gap. I had him out by five feet at second base, Tito had him, but he didn't squeeze the ball.

Yeah right, I'm thinking. This sure sounds like a bit of old ball player BS. For one thing, Lefebvre came up in 1965, and Mays wasn't throwing out a lot of runners by then. He'd been around for fifteen years. By then the rest of the league had figured out that you didn't try to take an extra base when the ball was hit to him, and 1965 was the last time he hit double digits in BaseRunner Kills.

Well, shame on me for ever doubting Willie. It was May 17 1966, at Dodger Stadium. His memory had some of the details wrong. But he got Willie Davis trying to go first to third on Fairly's single in the fourth. Drysdale singled leading off the sixth, and Mays doubled him off first base after he caught a Wills fly ball. In the eleventh inning, Wills tried to score from first on Gilliam's double and was out at home, Mays to McCovey to Haller.

The one part of the story that doesn't hold up is the near miss at second base on Lefebvre's hit. Lefebvre went 0 for 5 that night.
Leaside Cowboy - Wednesday, June 19 2024 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#447829) #
A record that stands out on Willie Mays' baseball-reference page is the most all-time putouts (7,037 / 7,112) as a centre-fielder / outfielder.
Dewey - Wednesday, June 19 2024 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#447836) #
Willie. The greatest I ever saw (as a kid at Wrigley in 1951; his first homer there, to straightaway centre.). I still cherish the memory -- and the ball he signed that day.

What a player!
scottt - Wednesday, June 19 2024 @ 02:13 PM EDT (#447838) #
He will live on forever.
Magpie - Wednesday, June 19 2024 @ 08:51 PM EDT (#447869) #
Everything Willie Mays did on a baseball diamond was vivid and magical, but when I think of him, in my mind's eye, I see him running the bases. It was wonderful. He ran low to the ground somehow, but shot out of a cannon, with these enormous strides chewing up the dirt (and his cap flying off, of course ), arriving at the base in an enormous cloud of dust.   When he cut the bases, he seemed somehow like a downhill skier, flying down the mountain, perfectly negotiating these tight little turns. A skier is harnessing gravity, the most basic power of the universe. Mays generated and harnessed his own power, and it was every bit as awesome, because it turns out he was in complete control of it. He could stop on a dime and instantly reverse his field if necessary.

Trying to catch Willie Mays in a rundown was like trying to assassinate a squirrel with a lawnmower. - Bill James)
JohnL - Thursday, June 20 2024 @ 03:57 PM EDT (#447938) #
"and the ball he signed that day."

Great to see you here, Dewey. Fantastic memory. Do you still have that ball?
Dewey - Saturday, June 22 2024 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#448019) #
Thanks for the kind words, John. Yes, I still have the ball -- take it out every now and then to prove itís real, and stoke old memories.

The ball has a story, which Iíve told before on Da Box so I wonít repeat it; but I donít know how to find it in the Archives, should any one might be interested.
Willie Mays (1931-2024) | 8 comments | Create New Account
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