A man with 100% dedication, baseball great Willie Howard Mays (1931-) was born in the steel-mill town of Westfield, Alabama and excelled in football in high school. Growing up, he idolized Joe DiMaggio.
"They throw the ball, I hit it. They hit the ball, I catch it," Mays once explained.
He joined the New York Giants in 1951, moved to San Francisco with the team, and for 22 years astounded the world with his boundless passion and talent, excelling in all aspects of the game. As sportswriter Arthur Daley explained, the athlete "could do everything and do it better than anyone else, with a joyous grace."
"I don't make history," Mays said. "I catch fly balls."
A fan favorite, his amazing career statistics included 3,283 hits, 660 home runs, 338 stolen bases, and a .302 average. A daring base runner and superb clutch hitter, on defense he was able to gracefully make difficult plays look easy. "He made the game seem like fun," praised journalist Larry Schwartz.
"I was very creative in the outfield," Mays reflected about his all-around play. "I had the ability to hit for both power and average and my base running was just something that I had an instinct for."
And what instinct he had!
Baseball player Bobby Bonds once said of Mays, "There'll be another regular Giants center fielder some day, but never another Willie Mays."
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