|GRANDFATHER OF THE FIVE-TOOL PLAYER.|
|AND HERE'S WHY, AT LEAST OFFENSIVELY.|
THE FRONT PAGE
- In 1966, Willie Mays was coming off his second MVP season of his career. The upcoming campaign would be his last exceptional year. He hit 37 homers and drove in 103 runs but never again would reach 30/100.
- Even though he won only two MVPs (he was robbed in '62), for 10 years beginning in '57, he finished no lower than fourth in the voting.
- Although known as "The Say Hey Kid'' and depicted in highlight films as an affable star with a big smile, he transforms into "The Say Nothing Kid'' at autograph shows. With pen in hand, he's as warm and cuddly as a medical school cadaver.
- He could use a little more "Willie Mays Hayes'' in him.
- That said, he's the best freakin' player in history. Wish I could've seen him in his prime.
THE BACK PAGE
- Lost nearly two full seasons to the service. So, what, conservatively add 60 homers to his 660 total, giving him 720?
- Received the coveted No. 1 card slot. Well-deserved honor.
- Beautiful photo of a beautiful player.
- Like Shoeless Joe Jackson's, here's another glove where triples went to die.
- Look closely at the front of this card, just under the "Giants'' banner and the lower left corner near "Willie,'' and you'll see two light ripples. I bought this card at a deep discount from eBay's Greg Morris Cards. Greg pointed out these defects in the listing and it's why he's one of the fairest and best vintage card sellers out there.
- Getting back to Mays, I think a case can be made he should've won seven MVPs. In addition to '54 and '65, let's go with '55, '58, '60, '62 and '64. What do you think?
- Mays was the classic five-tool player: hit for average and power, run, catch and throw.
- Ted Williams had a great quote about the '51 Rookie of the Year: "They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays.'' He played in 20 of them, second-most in history.
- One of five NL players to have eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons: Mel Ott, Sammy Sosa, Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols.
- Born in Westfield, Ala., just outside of Bessemer, home of another gifted athlete, Bo Jackson.
- The Braves were the first major-league team to make a run at signing Mays but an agreement with his Negro League team, the Birmingham Black Barons, couldn't be reached before the Giants swooped in.
- Can you image if the Braves would've had Hank Aaron and Mays in their outfield? The Yankees would have fewer World Series titles, that's for sure.
- Mays' catch in deep center, robbing Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the '54 World Series, is one of the most amazing defensive plays ever. I'd still put it behind Brooks Robinson taking extras from Lee May in Game 1 of the '70 Series.
- I think Bob Feller would've agreed with me.
- Unfortunately, Mays played at least one season too long and didn't do his legacy any favors, especially in the '73 World Series when he played for the Mets.
- Later he said of his decline, "Growing old is just a helpless hurt.''
- A few career stats to chew on:
- .302 average, 660 home runs, 1,903 RBI, 3,283 hits, 2,062 runs, 338 steals, .941 OPS, 156 OPS+, 150.8 WAR, 12 Gold Gloves. And the most amazing stat of all: His cap flew off his head a major-league record 10,341 times.
- With those numbers, I guess he's earned the right to be a prick to middle-aged white guys begging for his signature.
|WILLIE MAYS' AUTOGRAPH. NO, REALLY.|