Willie Mays, Hall of Famer who played for the Giants, Mets, dies at 93

Over his 22 years in the MLB, Mays played 8 seasons in New York

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Baseball legend Willie Mays dies at age 93
Mike Marza looks at the life and legacy of baseball legend Willie Mays.

SAN FRANCISCO (WABC) -- San Francisco Giants great and Hall of Famer Willie Mays died Tuesday afternoon, the team announced.

Mays' family and the Giants jointly announced Tuesday night he had "passed away peacefully" at the age of 93 on Tuesday afternoon surrounded by loved ones.

"My father has passed away peacefully and among loved ones," said Willie's son Michael Mays. "I want to thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart for the unwavering love you have shown him over the years. You have been his life's blood."

"Today we have lost a true legend," said Giants Chairman Greg Johnson. "In the pantheon of baseball greats, Willie Mays' combination of tremendous talent, keen intellect, showmanship, and boundless joy set him apart."

The center fielder was baseball's oldest living Hall of Famer. His signature basket catch and his dashes around the bases with his cap flying off personified the joy of the game. His over-the shoulder catch of a long drive in the 1954 World Series is baseball's most celebrated defensive feat.

Mays was best known for playing with the Giants in San Francisco from 1958 to 1972, but the electric outfielder nicknamed the "Say Hey Kid" spent many years playing in New York before the team moved west, and then again at the end of his career with the Mets in '72 and '73.

Kathy Hochul posted on X Tuesday night, calling Mays "one of the most talented athletes to ever grace New York."

Over 22 seasons, Mays batted .302, hit 660 home runs, totaled 3,283 hits, scored more than 2,000 runs and won 12 Gold Gloves.

He was Rookie of the Year in 1951, twice was named the Most Valuable Player and finished in the top 10 for the MVP 10 other times.

He was voted into the Hall in 1979, his first year of eligibility, and in 1999 followed only Babe Ruth on The Sporting News' list of the game's top stars. (Statistician Bill James ranked him third, behind Ruth and Honus Wagner). The Giants retired his uniform number, 24, and set their AT&T Park in San Francisco on Willie Mays Plaza.

Commissioner of Basebal Robert D. Manfred, Jr. released a statement on Mays' passing, saying in part, "All of Major League Baseball is in mourning today as we are gathered at the very ballpark where a career and a legacy like no other began. Willie Mays took his all-around brilliance from the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League to the historic Giants franchise. From coast to coast in New York and San Francisco, Willie inspired generations of players and fans as the game grew and truly earned its place as our National Pastime."

Mays died two days before a game between the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals to honor the Negro Leagues at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

Mays began his career in Alabama with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues.

MLB has been working with the city of Birmingham and Friends of Rickwood nonprofit group to renovate the 10,800-seat ballpark, which at 114 years old is the oldest professional ballpark in the United States.

There also will be a Double-A game at the ballpark between the Birmingham Barons and Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League on June 18.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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