A couple of weeks ago in Scottsdale, Arizona fellow Around the Foghorn writer Chris Corbett and I were supposed to attend a very special event that featured Willie Mays and was hosted by Marty Lurie. The “Tommy Bahama Presents an Evening with Willie Mays” was on Thursday March 6th. Chris wrote about looking forward to this event here. Due to flight delays and bad weather, we were not able to make it in time. Both of us arrived in town just a couple of hours too late.
Longtime Bay Area radio host Marty Lurie found himself in the lucky chair as host for this event. Marty has been a fixture covering local baseball and getting some of the best interviews in the game since 1998. For many years he hosted the pre-game show for the Oakland A’s. Now, Marty hosts KNBR’s Giants pre- and post-game weekend shows. In 2002 he was invited to speak at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York on induction weekend about his work compiling the oral history of baseball. Marty grew up in New York and attended his first game at Ebbets Field. You can find much more at his website www.loveofthegameproductions.com.
Marty Lurie was kind of enough to talk with me and share stories from the “Tommy Bahama Presents an Evening with Willie Mays”. Who better to ask than the guy hand-picked by Willie to host this event for a 4th time? We at Around the Foghorn appreciate Marty taking time out of his schedule for us.
Marty on what the evening with Willie was like.
It’s a special event that Tommy Bahama has done 3 times before. You get a picture with Willie, get to meet him and a signed ball in a cube. It’s then one, to one and half hours of questions. It’s a time to be with one of the great icons in baseball history. You get to look at Willie like never before. It’s a very special night.
We view the card, the story, the legend. That night the baseball card comes to life. All the stories, movies, cards, they all get explained. At the end he auctioned of items he had on him for charity. The crowd was in a frenzy. Willie tries to make the event unique because you get to be in his presence.
On how Willie is doing these days.
He’s in very good health. Willie’s mind is sharp. It’s the way he handles life and the way he still puts on a show. Any curveball that comes his way, he whacks it right out of the park. He’s a showman.
On Willie’s cap always flying off and the basket catch.
He wanted to be fast. It was part of how he performed. He learned the basket catch in the army. Willie said it gave him a quicker release of the ball.
The best catch Willie has told Marty about
Willie talks about a 1951 catch against the Dodgers. Don Mueller was in right field and Leo told Willie to go catch anything. Billy Cox was on 3rd base for the Dodgers. There was a ball deep in the right field corner that Willie tracked down. Then he spun and threw to the plate to get Cox.
On what Willie says he was thinking in the on-deck circle in October 1951.
He hoped it wouldn’t have to come to him. Willie said he was awestruck by the moment. He was nervous. You can see when Bobby Thomson hits the home run Willie didn’t even realize the game was over.
Marty’s answer to the question “Did you ever picture yourself doing these things?”.
I might as well have pictured myself as an astronaut. It’s incredible the journey we’ve had together. I had absolutely no inkling when I was younger that this could happen.
Once again, thanks to Marty Lurie for taking the time to talk with us here at Around the Foghorn. Chris Corbett and I are already making plans to attend next year’s event and see all of this in person ourselves.