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International News: San Francisco Giants’ Willie Mays, baseball legend, dead at 93

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2024. 9:51 pm CST.

Photo Credit: Major League Baseball/Chicago Cubs

By Aaron Humes: Major League Baseball (MLB) legend and ambassador Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants died this afternoon at the age of 93, the team announced per ESPN.

Son Michael said in a statement released by the team that his father had passed peacefully and among loved ones and added: “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.”

His death comes two days before the Giants were scheduled to play the St Louis Cardinals at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, in a game honoring Mays and the Negro Leagues as a whole. It was announced Monday that Mays would not be able to attend.

League Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, “Thursday’s game at historic Rickwood Field was designed to be a celebration of Willie Mays and his peers…With sadness in our hearts, it will now also serve as a national remembrance of an American who will forever remain on the short list of the most impactful individuals our great game has ever known.”

Mays’ picture was shown on the video board at Wrigley Field during Tuesday night’s game between the Giants and Chicago Cubs; a moment of silence was held between innings.

The man known as the “Say Hey Kid” left an indelible mark on the sport, with his name a constant throughout baseball’s hallowed record book and his defensive prowess – epitomized by “The Catch” in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, his sole championship – second to none. In 24 years with the Giants and New York Mets, he made 24 All-Star teams, won two National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, and had 12 Gold Gloves. He ranks sixth all-time in home runs (660), seventh in runs scored (2,068), 12th in runs batted in (1,909), and 13th in hits (3,293).

Fellow Giants legend Barry Bonds, who is Mays’ godson and sits just five spots above him on the all-time home run leaderboard, said Mays “helped shape me to be who I am today” in a message shared on social media.

Mays grew up in Alabama and began his professional career at the age of 17 in 1948 with the Birmingham Black Barons, helping the team to the Negro League World Series that season.

At age 20, Mays was the 10th Black player in major league history, and almost from the beginning, one of its best. In game 1 of the 1954 World Series, Mays chased down a pitch to deep center field at the cavernous Polo Grounds, made the catch then pivoted and threw it back in to keep the runners from moving. Known simply as “The Catch” to baseball fans, Mays said he hadn’t been lucky to get it and later claimed it was not even his best or favorite defensive effort. In 1979, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

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