“This Week” will be a weekly series featuring historical moments in San Francisco Giants’ history.
Willie Mays is a San Francisco Giants’ icon. We have honored him with the Willie Mays Plaza between 3rd St and King. In this plaza, there are 24 palm trees to recognize the Number 24 Mays wore while he played with the Giants. There is also a statue erected in his honor. He is and always will be known as the “Say Hey Kid”.
On June 24, 1950, 8 years before the New York Giants moved to San Francisco, the “Say Hey Kid”, also known as Willie Howard Mays, made his professional baseball debut playing for the Trenton Giants, the New York Giants’ farm team in the Class B Inter State League. Mays went 0-for-3 in his first game, against the Hagerstown Braves (Boston Braves affiliate) at Municipal Stadium.
Interstate League history was also made that night when Mays became the first African American player to start in league competition. He batted sixth and played Centerfield, making 4 putouts.
Born in Westfield, AL on May 6, 1931, Mays was signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1950. Before signing with the Giants, he played one season in the Negro American League, for the Birmingham Black Barons, in 1947. During this time, he had 61 At-Bats, 16 Hits, and 12 RBI, with a Batting Average of .262. In his 22 years playing in the Major Leagues, starting in 1951, he played 2992 games, had 10,881 At Bats, 2062 Runs, 660 Home Runs, and 1903 RBI.
By the end of his first season with the New York Giants, he was named Rookie of the Year.
Willie Mays can still be seen being chauffeured around in his golf cart at home games at AT&T Park. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get a glimpse or maybe a wave from the “Say Hey Kid”.