Baseball Hall of Famer “Say Hey Kid” Passes Away

Baseball legend Willie Mays, fondly known as the “Say Hey Kid,” passed away on Tuesday due to heart failure at the age of 93. At the time of his death, Mays was the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. His career spanned 22 seasons, most of which were spent with the Giants, both in New York and San Francisco. Mays is widely regarded as one of the greatest all-around players in the history of baseball.

Mays began his major league career with the Giants in 1951 and remained with the team until 1972 when he was traded to the Mets. He retired after the Mets lost the 1973 World Series to the Athletics. In August 2022, the Mets retired Mays’ No. 24, fulfilling a promise made by then-owner Joan Whitney Payson. The Giants had retired his number 50 years earlier, making Mays the 15th player in major league history to have his number retired by multiple teams.

Despite a poignant image of Mays falling in center field during the 1973 World Series, he left the sport as a two-time NL MVP with 3,283 hits and 660 home runs under his belt. At the time of his retirement, Mays had the third-highest home run total in major league history, trailing only Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. Mays was also a 12-time Gold Glove winner and was named to a record-tying 24 NL All-Star teams.

Born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama, Mays began his baseball career in the Negro Southern League before graduating high school. He signed with the Giants in 1950 and made his major league debut in May 1951. Mays’ natural talent was evident from the start, and he quickly became a beloved figure in the sport.

Mays’ career was not without its struggles. He missed part of the 1952 season and all of the 1953 season due to his military service during the Korean War. However, he returned to the sport with a vengeance in 1954, leading the NL in hitting and winning his first MVP award. Mays’ performance helped the Giants secure the pennant and a four-game sweep of the Indians in the World Series.

Despite his impressive career, Mays’ performance in the World Series was often subpar. He batted just .239 with no home runs and six RBIs in 20 World Series games spread across four Fall Classics. However, his overall contributions to the sport cannot be understated. Mays was one of only two players, along with Aaron, to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs at the time of his retirement.

In 2015, Mays was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. He is survived by a son, Michael, from his first marriage, and was the godfather to Barry Bonds, baseball’s all-time leader in home runs.