Playing in the same Golden Era of New York City Baseball as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, the New York Giants made the World Series in 1951 and 1954 winning the 1954 series against the heavily favored 111-43 Cleveland Indians. In arguably the most famous catch in a World Series game, Mays made an unbelievable over the head catch to rob Vic Werth of an extra base-hit and keeping the two runners on base from scoring keeping the game tied. The Giants would eventually win Game 1 and sweep the Indians to win the 1954 World Series. Mays would never play in the World Series again. Until the Giants moved to San Francisco, the New York Baseball seen was dominated by the trio of great outfielders of Mays, Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees and Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Mays would play for the Giants until 1972 when he returned to New York City playing for the New York Mets for one season before retiring at the end of the 1973 season. His final career line is a so:
.302 Batting average with 660 HRs and 1903 RBI. Mays had 3208 hits (523 2B/140 3B/660 HR) with 338 stolen bases (in 441 attempts), 1526 strikeouts with 1464 walks. His career OPS was .941 (.384 OBP%/.557 SLG%). Mays was also a defensive marvel finishing with a .981 fielding percentage making only 141 errors in 7095 career putouts in the outfield. Mays won the Rookie of the Year award in 1951, won two National League MVP awards (1954, 1965) finishing in the top ten in MVP voting 12 times. Mays was a 20-time All-Star and won 12 consecutive Gold Glove awards. Willie Mays was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility in 1979 with 94.7 percent of the vote (409 of 432 votes).
As hard as it is to me to believe that he would not get the other remaining 23 votes, Mays was only the 14th person at that time to be elected to the Hall of Fame in his 1st year of eligibility. I would just like to thank Wille Mays for all he has done for the game of Baseball and for the generations of Baseball fans who grew up reading and watching footage of his exploits. I wish I was able to see him play live but at least I can say that I had the privilege of seeing Mays in any way shape or form. Maybe I'll get lucky and someone will invent that time machine so I can sit down in the Polo Grounds and watch the marvel that is Willie Mays. Thank you and Happy Birthday
For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Willie Mays' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Willie Mays' page from the National Baseball Hall of Fame website
- Click Here for a blogpost that I wrote on April 30, 2007 on Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente and the 1954 Puerto Rican Winter League season that they played together in the outfield from my Latinoball blogpage