SF Giants fans celebrate the very first Willie Mays Day on 2/4/24
It is an honor befitting the greatest baseball player of all time. What Mays did on the field was nothing short of exemplary. A career .301 hitter with 660 home runs, 1,909 RBI, 12 Gold Gloves, and 2 MVPs. You could list his accolades and statistics for hours and they still may not do justice in explaining how special he truly was.
Most modern day Giants fans are too young to remember seeing Mays play. They may have seen the incredible basket catch in the 1954 World Series but with limited video available, much of what Mays did on the diamond feels like the stuff of legend.
It almost adds to the mystery. In a modern age where every baseball game is recorded and we can see the latest web gem or home run just moments after it happens through social media, the fact that so much of what Mays did only survives through stories is pretty remarkable.
On YouTube, there is a video that has over 10 minutes of footage from Mays' career. It at least gives one a taste of the skill with which Mays played the game for so long.
For anyone who wants to learn more about the life and career of Willie Mays, I would highly recommend John Shea's book, 24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid. In the book, Shea interviews many people who knew Mays, and Mays himself, as he tells the story of how he got into baseball, dealing with racism and discrimination in the South, and his triumphs throughout his career.
As a younger Giants fan, it helped me come closer to understanding how Mays truly was a one in a lifetime talent and how those who saw him play the game did not soon forget it.
Happy Willie Mays Day to the Say Hey Kid. Giants fans and the city of San Francisco will never forget just how much you meant to the game of baseball as the greatest to ever do it.