The Story Of Willie Mays

The story of Willie Mays: despite serving two years in the Army during his baseball career, Willie Mays hit 660 homeruns and was probably the best all-around player to ever play the game.

For a kid today to get an idea of how good Willie Mays was, he'd have to take Mark McGwire's power, Ken Griffey Jr.'s defense, and Ricky Henderson's speed...roll them into one...and he'd ALMOST have Willie Mays.

As a player for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1947, the New York Giants saw Mays' talents and signed him to a minor league contract in 1950. In 1951, Mays jumped to the big league club, winning the Rookie of the Year award and leading the Giants to the National League pennant after trailing the Brooklyn Dodgers by 13-1/2 games late in the season.

After serving in the Army for the next two years, Mays came back in 1954. He won the MVP award that year and made the most famous catch ever in a World Series - an over-the-shoulder catch in deep center field off the bat of Vic Wertz. The Giants swept the heavily-favored Cleveland Indians, 4-0.

Mays' power was equivalent to Babe Ruth's. Mays hit 35 or more homers 10 times, 40 or more six times, and more than 50 twice. He won five slugging titles, another MVP in 1965 (.317 average, 52 homers, and 112 RBI), and finished with 660 career homeruns. Give him back the two seasons he lost while in the service, and Mays would have easily beaten Ruth's 714.

While most remembered for his power, Mays had tremendous speed, winning four stolen base crowns and leading the league in triples three times. That speed also made him tremendous center fielder, winning 12 consecutive Gold Gloves and setting a career record for putouts in center field.

Mays finished his career in 1973 with a .302 lifetime average, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979.

© High Speed Ventures 2011