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Say Hey to Heaven for me, Willie! I was too young to really see Willie Mays in
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Say Hey to Heaven for me, Willie! I was too young to really see Willie Mays in

8

Jun 19, 2024, 7:21 AM
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his prime. Unfortunately for me, the prevailing memory I have of him is of a player who stayed too long at the dance, literally stumbling down the first base line as a New York Met.

But, thanks to the magic of YouTube, I can catch glimpses. Who hasn't seen the basket catch in the 1954 World Series a thousand times? (That was the year I was born, incidentally.) The references say Willie Mays was the tenth black player to play in the major leagues. This tells you it was a really slow integration, since the first was Jackie Robinson, had broken the color barrier in 1948, and Mays debuted as a rookie in 1951.

I really didn't get into baseball much until the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, and then Ted Turner rocked the world when he set up this satellite "SuperStation" TBS. They also had Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Aaron, who was easy to root for.

In those early days of my fandom, the prevailing opinion seemed to be that if anyone was going to break Babe Ruth's all time home run record, it would be Willie Mays. But, the Giants had moved to the west coast in 1958, and I pretty much never saw Willie Mays on tv, unless they happened to be playing the Braves. And, since I was such a big fans of the Braves and Hank Aaron, it always rankled me to hear that Willie Mays was held in higher esteem than Hank. I guess back then I thought like Highlander, "there can be only one!"

Henry Aaron eventually got his due, and after many years, I also came to appreciate just how great a player The Say Hey Kid had been, as well. I have worked really hard to wash out that memory of him as a New York Met. Had the salaries in his prime been anything like they are now, I don't think he ever would have made that move. He was definitely hanging on for the paycheck at that point. I can't fault him for wanting to provide for his family.

"What Might Have Been": I have read in Hank Aaron's bio that he was only offered two major league contracts to make the jump from the Negro Leagues to MLB for the 1952 season. One was from the New York Giants. The second was from the Milwaukee Braves, and because it was for fifty dollars A MONTH more than the Giants, we never got to see Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as teammates. But, they are together now, playing on the Ultimate Field of Dreams. Say Hey to Hank and the rest of Heaven for me, Willie.

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Re: Say Hey to Heaven for me, Willie! I was too young to really see Willie Mays in

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Jun 19, 2024, 7:28 AM
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Hopefully he was a Christian so he could be in heaven..

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Re: Say Hey to Heaven for me, Willie! I was too young to really see Willie Mays in

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Jun 19, 2024, 7:55 AM
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With only one game per week on TV in his early years, not many folks saw him play much until the late'60s. The game I remember most was not a highlight reel game - he dropped two shallow fly balls with his patented basket catch in the same inning. Probably didn't drop many of those in his entire career.

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I say the basket catch Cam Cannarella made for us this year was even more

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Jun 19, 2024, 8:05 AM
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impressive than Willie's. Cam had to contend with that incline at DKS, as well as the fence looming. Willie's catch was in the cavernous outfield at the Polo Grounds. References say that Wille was 450 feet from home plate when he made that catch. Dead center at the Polo Grounds was a truly monstrous 483 feet, so Willie still had 33 feet to go before he would have encountered the wall.

Center fielders today would wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares all the time if they had to patrol a ballpark that big. No wonder the Polo Grounds was torn down after the Giants moved away, it was taking up too much valuable New York real estate! (Actually, it hung around for almost seven years after the Giants moved to the west coast. It was torn down to make way for an apartment complex in 1964.)

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Re: the basket catch Cam Cannarella made for us this year - video reminder

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Jun 19, 2024, 8:29 AM
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for those who didnt see it live. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG948epY_fo&ab_channel=ESPN

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Re: Say Hey to Heaven for me, Willie! I was too young to really see Willie Mays in

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Jun 19, 2024, 8:36 AM
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I had the pleasure of watching The Say Hey Kid his entire career. He was something special and some say the best overall BB player of all time. He could do it all and excelled at everything. Truly a special guy and a great player.

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Re: Say Hey to Heaven for me, Willie! I was too young to really see Willie Mays in


Jun 19, 2024, 5:55 PM
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Most (players) say the greatest of all time .. his military service cost him to be the first to break Ruth’s HR record. Power, speed and defense … I’m an idiot, heck I thought he’d already died ..

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Re: Say Hey to Heaven for me, Willie! I was too young to really see Willie Mays in

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Jun 19, 2024, 10:56 AM
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Had several of his baseball cards. Always a hero.

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