Happy 85th Birthday to Willie Mays, “The Say Hey Kid”

Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, New York Giants

Image credit: en.r8lst.com

Willie Howard Mays, Jr., ( May 6, 1931) an American former Major League Baseball center fielder, spent almost all of his 22 season career playing for the New York Giants and San Francisco Giants. He Finished his career with the New York Mets. In 1979, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mays is one of five National League players to have had eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons, along with Mel Ott, Sammy Sosa, Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols. Mays hit over 50 home runs in 1955 and 1965, representing the longest time span between 50-plus home run seasons for any player in Major League Baseball history. His final Major League Baseball appearance came on October 16 during game 3 of the 1973 World Series.

His professional baseball career began in 1947 while he was still in high school and played briefly with the Chattanooga Choo-Choos in Tennessee during the summer. A short time later, Mays left the Choo-Choos and returned to his home state to join the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. Mays helped them win their pennant and advance to the 1948 Negro League World Series.

Mays was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1952, during the Korean War (1950–53). Subsequently, he missed most of that season and all of the 1953 season. He spent much of his time in the Army playing baseball at Fort Eustis, Virginia.It was at Fort Eustis that Mays learned the basket catch from a fellow Fort Eustis outfielder, Al Fortunato.

It is not clear how Willie Mays became known as the “Say Hey Kid.” One story is that in 1951, Barney Kremenko, a writer for the New York Journal, proceeded to refer to Mays as the ‘Say Hey Kid’ after he overheard Mays say, “‘Say who,’ ‘Say what,’ ‘Say where,’ ‘Say hey,'”. Another story is that Jimmy Cannon created the nickname because Mays did not know everybody’s names when he first arrived in the minors. “You see a guy, you say, ‘Hey, man. Say hey, man,’ ” Mays said. Some Giants players referred to him, their team captain, as “Cap.”

Happy Birthday to a true baseball legend, Mr. Willie Howard Mays, Jr.!

(reference: Wikipedia)

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