Willie Howard Mays, Jr. (born: May 6, 1931), played professional baseball for the New York (San Francisco) Giants and the New York Mets. He was one of the best batters and fielders during that time. He played two minor leagues for only two seasons before the Giants picked him in 1951. Mays was named “Rookie of the Year” during that season. By the 1950s, the Giants relocated to San Francisco which later became the San Francisco Giants and played for them until 1972. He was traded to the Mets after that and by the 1973 season, he retired from baseball.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
During Mays’ 21 seasons of major league career, he hit more than 600 home runs. He was called baseball’s finest defensive outfielder ever and even named as the best base runner as well. He won two MVP awards and shares a record of most All-Star Games played (24) alongside Hank Aaron and Stan Musial. He ended his career with over 650 home runs, fourth all-time highest and a record-tying 12 Gold Gloves during the first year the award was introduced which was his 6th season into his career. He was selected into the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, is one of the five National League players to have had eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons.
Why Was He So Good?
Willie Mays was a solid hitter. The overwhelming polls and baseball pros analysis have judged him as undeniably the greatest all-around baseball player of all-time, and people used to believe that he might catch Babe Ruth as the all-time leader in home runs.
What You May Not Know
- Willie Mays played for the Birmingham Black Barons when he was still in high school (age 16) where he played center field and was paid a salary of $250 a month.
- Both of Willie’s parents were athletic. Mr. Mays played baseball for an all-black team and Mrs. Mays was a champion sprinter in her school.
- His promising career was later interrupted when he was drafted into the army. He missed two seasons but later returned in 1954 and led his team to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.
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