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Willie Mays
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Willie Mays
Willie Mays
Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 1979
Ultimate Mets Database popularity ranking: 30 of 1043 players
Willie Mays
Born: May 6, 1931 at Westfield, Ala.
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Height: 5.11 Weight: 180

Willie Mays has been the most popular Ultimate Mets Database daily lookup 15 times, most recently on May 6, 2017.

of 1b
Non-playing roles with Mets
  • Coach 1974 - 1979

First Mets game: May 14, 1972
Last Mets game: October 16, 1973

Winner of National League Rookie of the Year award, 1951. (New York Giants)
Winner of National League Most Valuable Player award, 1954. (New York Giants)
Winner of National League Most Valuable Player award, 1965. (San Francisco Giants)

Share your memories of Willie Mays


Troy Weaver
I was just a kid when the Mets got Willie Mays. He was over 40, and past his prime, but it was still such a thrill to see "The Say Hey Kid" in a Mets uniform. His first game with the Mets was on Mother's Day in 1972, at Shea against the Giants. I remember Rusty Staub hit a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning, but the Giants later came back to tie the game. This set the stage for Willie to hit a dramatic game-winning homer against his former team. I remember it vividly.

Steve Parker
The first major league game my dad took me to was the Mets vs Cardinals in July 73. My father was a long-suffering NY Giants fan and Willie Mays was something an old Giant fan and young Met fan had in common. In that game Willie hit a home run off of Rich Folkers (a former Met). I think it may have been Willie's last home run. (He didn't play much as the season wound down.) Perhaps someone can clarify my memory I was only 9 years old--but what a great way to begin my love affair with baseball.

Charles Weitzman
Steve believe it or not I may have been at that game as well. I remember it because it was my first Mets game. It was an Old Timers game and the Mets were losing. Then Wilie hit a home run. I hope this was the game you were at but it does not matter because baseball is beautiful because of its memories and its dialog.

David Williams
I can remember when I was first getting into baseball in 1972. I was 8 years old and was intrigued by Mays. I can remember this one game where me and my brother were watching and Mays was out his first 3 times up. After each at bat my older brother would tease me "what an old man." The fourth at bat he hit a homer into the left field bullpen. I went absolutely bananas! He is the greatest player ever! It was the 658th of his career.

Richard Kissel
The greatest player of my time. I was 16 years old and was in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital awaiting results of a biopsy on my tibia. The day Willie Mays, in his first Met game, in May 1972, hit a home run off of Gaylord Perry was the day I started feeling better. There was a magic about Willie. It wasn't exactly little Johnny Sylvestor being promised a home run by the Bambino but Willie could certainly make things happen. It was great to see him wear a Mets uniform, even if he did take Art Shamsky's number.

I got to see Willie's last game at Shea, and we waited around for him to leave the park. I remember he had a red car phone; a big chunky red phone. I couldn't believe someone could have a phone in their car.

I remember about May or June of 1963 the Mets had a "Willie Mays" night on a lovely Friday night at the Polo Grounds. All the pre-game honors and all. In those days, any time the Giants or Dodgers came to NY to play the Mets a full house was guaranteed; all the old Dodger and Giant fans would be there to see old favorites who were still playing in those days. It was a very special baseball occasion in NYC. Anyway, Willie came up to bat (I think it was against Roger Craig) to a wild ovation and proceeded to thrill the crowd with a prodigious home run either on top of or over the left field roof where the housing projects were, just as he had done in his first major league homer in 1951! What can I say? That was Willie!

How Willie's homer in his first game as a Met did not make the top 10 Mets moments is beyond me. It was truly one of the most magical baseball moments of all time!!

My one vivid willie memory as a kid was of Willie pleading on his knees with the home plate umpire that Bud Harrelson was safe on a close call at the plate in the '73 Series. Buddy was called out, but the Mets went on to win the game in extra innings.

John Maxwell Sr.
Willie Mays was, in my and plenty of other people's opinion, the greatest all around ball player who ever lived, and I'd take him over anybody. He could do it all!

March 7, 2001
Even though he was toast when he came to the Mets, it was extremely exciting to see him, especially the first game. The best ballplayer who ever lived.

I'm glad they haven't given out his number 24, (with rare exceptions,) although I assume this is also to honor my all-time favorite Met, Art Shamsky.

Jim Snedeker
November 19, 2001
I loved Willie. He was my first favorite ballplayer, even before he came to the Mets.

One indelible memory is waiting outside the player's entrance for a game after he came to the Mets. We didn't see anybody, but everybody was silently hoping that we might see Willie.

All of a sudden there is a commotion and a huge tan Cadillac pulls up. It's Willie! No sooner does he get out than kids are crawling all over him, practically pulling him to the ground (he doesn't have a happy look on his face). I didn't get his autograph, but my Dad snapped a few photos with my Kodak Instamatic. And he also took my picture standing in front of Willie's car (license plate: SAY HEY).

I thought this was neat because my Dad used to root for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, and may have even seen Willie playing for the Giants. So it was one of those "full circle" things. A good day.

Alan Budick
January 7, 2002
Simply the greatest af all-time......By the time the Mets got Willie, he was well past his prime.

However just the sight of him finally wearing Met pinstripes gave me the greatest thrill(other than 69) as a Met fan. And by the way, even M. Donald Grant and his blond haired, blue eyed staff were in awe.......GOD BLESS YOU Willie, stay well

February 3, 2002
Simply put, the greatest player I've ever seen.

I always thought that there was something "magical" about Willie. When I was a kid, Mays could do no wrong.

March 22, 2002
Simply the GREATEST ever to play the game. True he was past his prime when he arrived as a Met, but he did give us all some thrills. The homer on Mother's Dy, basket catches and of course we got to see him go out in a World Series. I honor him with my handle MRMET24. We need more Willie Mays in the game today.

Johnny Met
July 2, 2002
Shortly after the 1981 strike ended, the Mets held their old timer's game. A hard hit ball was heading for the gap. Out of nowhere came a flying Willie Mays. Willie lunged for the ball, caught it, then made a summersault for good measure. One of the best catches I ever saw.

I also remember the 1983 game against the Giants before which the Giants finally retired Mays'#24. Two former Mays' teammates were still active and in uniform for the game: Chris Speier and Tom Seaver. Seaver made the introduction by saying, "There are greats, and then there are the greatest of the great."

Matt Stratton
July 25, 2002
I remember seeing Willie Mays hit a 3 run HR in a 1973 late season game against the Cardinals to put the Mets up 7-3. I was 10 at the time and remember looking at my father and saying that could be the last HR of his career. To my disappointment he hit at least one more that year. I think of this moment whenever I hear someone complain that a sports superstar should retire because he's past his prime.

Peter Stratakos
July 26, 2002
I had that 1973 baseball card seen here of Willie Mays. I was only 7 at the time, and traded it for a Bobby Murcer childhood card. That kid in my class took advantage of me!! I'm still looking for him.

Mr. Sparkle
November 5, 2002
Willie was a Met at the end of his career but I love the fact that he ended his long career as a Met even though he didn't have much gas left in the tank. I'll never forget him on his knees during the World Series pleading with the umpire.

I also like the fact that in that baseball song they sing about Willie, Mickey, and the Duke and 2 of the 3 were Mets, while the other was a drunk who abandoned his children. And Willie was arguably the best player ever to put on a uniform.

December 25, 2002
My favorite memory of Willie as a Met is exactly what made him the best player of his time.

Mets were playing the Cubs, who had Rick Monday in centerfield. Monday was becoming a star at that time, though he hadn't "saved the flag" yet. Willie hit a clean single through the middle and Monday, knowing it was a 42 year old running, took his time jogging in for the ball, which Willie noticed. And so Willie never stopped running, and he slid into second with a double up the middle. I have never seen that before or since, although probably only Pete Rose and Derek Jeter played that heads up style that Mays perfected. Had Willie been only half as athletic as he was, he still would have been a solid big leaguer based just on his field smarts and hustle.

He was a man I would like my kids to look up to.

Bob R.
January 8, 2003
Yep, Willie was pretty much washed up when he reached the Mets, but he still could show flashes of brilliance. I remember seeing him hit a homer at Shea when he was still a Giant. That's one of my baseball highlights even though it hurt the Mets. Too bad he couldn't have gone out as a World Champion, but the Mets just ran out of gas in the '73 Series. Anyway, I didn't see Willie in his prime, but I have to say this - as great as he was, his godson Barry Bonds may be even better.

June 5, 2003
The best player I have seen in my lifetime was Willie Mays. I saw him with the Giants at the Polo Grounds on many occasions. One particular time in a doubleheader against the Braves he hit two homers both over the roof in left, stole three bases and robbed Johhny Logan and Del Crandall of extra base hits. Leo Durocher used to say about Willie "If I knew he could cook I'd marry him."

Durocher was directly responsible for "Say Hey." In 1951, Mays was hitting .488 at Minneapolis in Triple A when he was called up by the Giants. He had no hits in his first twelve at bats. Mays allegedly was despondent in the clubhouse and was crying one night after another 0-4 game. Durocher told him that he was the centerfielder regardless of whether he hit. The next day he hit a mammoth home run over the roof at the Polo Grounds off Warren Spahn. Spahn told reporters "For the first 60 feet that was a great pitch."

Mays' defense was renowned. During the 1951 pennant race at the Polo Grounds the Dodgers one night had Bobby Cox on third with one out. Carl Furillo hit a line drive to deep right center. Mays ran over, caught it and threw the ball on the fly to Westrum and caught Cox at the plate. Charlie Dressen was quoted, "I'd like to see him do that again."

When the Giants came back to play the Mets in 1962 at the Polo Grounds the ovation provided to Mays brought chills to your spine. When Mays came to the Mets, he was well past his prime. Ironically, his first game was against the Giants. He hit a home run against Dan Carruthers in his first at bat. It was sad to watch him in the 1973 Series against the A's. Routine fly balls that would have been automatic outs when he was in his prime fell beside him.

Jim Snedeker
July 12, 2003
Everyone likes to point out that Willie was about done when the Mets got him. But who could forget his first game with the Mets, when he hit a home run against his the Giants to win the game?

I also remember a game in 1973 against the Braves, in Atlanta. The Mets were behind, 7-1, going into the top of the ninth. They launched an improbable comback, and to top it off, Willie came up with the Mets down by one run, and drove in the go-ahead run, and he was a pinch-hitter! And the Metsies won, 8-7. His hit not only drove in the tying run, but also the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run. (Thanks to the box score here on this site.)

Also, this night I was attending a Yankee game at the Stadium with a friend of mine, and we heard about the game on the radio driving home that night. I'd like to think that that was more thrilling to hear than the Yankee game that evening!

Big Vin
August 2, 2003
The Mets got Willie more for PR reasons than to win ballgames. He was in the winter of his baseball life and his once great skills had all but eroded. People who do the whole memorabilia circuit and cross paths with Willie tell me he is bitter and angry and is not a nice man. Maybe he looks at the dough lesser ball players are getting now and think what he could demand if he were playing today. For me, the fact the he has said that he was not the ball player he use to be when he returned to the Mets - and that the press and the fans gave him that last year as a thank you for what he was - I think that shows class and dignity. It is never easy for an athelete to admit they have lost it. That Willie did only makes him that more endearing.

October 11, 2003
I was only 8 when the Mets traded for Mays, so I couldn't fully appreciate his greatness. For me, the best memory of Mays was coming up to bat with the bases loaded against the Reds in the NLCS and hitting that high chopper off the plate for an RBI single. My friend and I were screaming, "Willie! Willie!" at the TV as he came up to the plate, and the yelling only got louder when he drove in the run.

Unfortunately, all my dad remembers of Mays in a Met uniform is how painful it was to watch him butcher balls in the outfield against Oakland. Almost brings tears to his eyes thinking about it. Willie was his all-time favorite.

October 28, 2003
Willie drove a pink Imperial with "Say Hey" plates.

Michael Evans
January 6, 2004
Like Ali, Willie was someone who once you saw him you couldn't take your eyes off him. I just saw a highlight of his last All-Star game in 1973 in Kansas City and after all the others batted, past and present greats, Willie came up as a pinch-hitter in the 7th inning to a standing ovation. Though he struck out and walked away with a sad expression the crowd continued to give him his due. How most special it was for me to be a part of Willie Mays night in September in Shea Stadium in NY, a true legend, the walk, the looking over his shoulder when he ran the bases, the basket catch, the underhand throw back to the infield, one of a kind. His like may never be seen again.

I'm glad I have video of him as a younger and great player. Sometimes I wish I was born earlier to have seen him at his peak.

Barbie Lewis
January 13, 2004
One moment which sticks out in my mind, which I also have a still photo of is the 1970 mid-air Collision in Candlestick Park between him and Bobby Bonds vs the Reds. Willie's chest caught Bondss knee on the way down knocking him out temporarily but he still held on to the ball for a fabulous OUT! Say Hey.

Kathy Porter
January 15, 2004
1956 Game at Forbes Field Roberto Clemente hits a scorching ball to Center field, Willie takes a few backward steps and then leaps into the air to snag the ball before it descends downward, Branch Rikey said that was the greatest catch he had ever seen or hope to see.

His legend lives on!

Jason Simmons
January 15, 2004
I'd like to share my memory of Mr. Mays if you please, I was in Forbes Field in 1965 when Willie won the MVP that year, a batter hit a ball in the gap a few runners were advancing the ball went into deep Centerfield the Giants were ahead, Willie retrieved the ball and made a prodigious throw to nail the 3rd runner trying to score he did it on one bounce future Hall of Famer Willie Stargell was tagged out.

By the time Willie got up with the score tied and the game into extra innings he got a basehit and that was enough for the Giants to win the game. His title of game's Greatest All Around Player Ever is most deserved indeed.

Feat Fan
March 23, 2004
This is perhaps Willie Mays' best game -- the day he he hit four home runs in one game. All four traveled an estimated 400 feet.

And in a bonus for the 13,114 fans, Hank Aaron hit two home runs the same day. Six home runs from Mays and Aaron in the same day? Milwaukee's new stadium will have to go a ways to match that.

April 30, 2004
I was at Willie Mays' first game as a Met, the Mother's Day game in 1972, as well. I was 8 years old. I recall the first three batters in the bottom of the first walked and then Rusty Staub came up and hit a grand slam. That and Willie's first homer as a Met are memories that will stay with me forever.

Jim Snedeker
May 22, 2004
I just saw Willie being interviewed on TV. Yeh, he looks older, but his voice is still the same--in fact I knew it was him when I heard him, even before I saw his face.

Which brought back memories for me. He was the first pro athlete I ever paid any attention to, when I first became interested in sports back in the late 1960's. I bought a book about him "The Baseball Life of Willie Mays" through the Scholastic Book Service at school. As I became an athlete, I found myself modeling my actions, discipline and behavior after what I read in the book. I remember when he was little, it said that people called him "Buckduck" (later shortened to "Buck") because he tended to shuffle when he ran. I wonder what he'd do if you called him that on the street?

Anyway, it's nice to know he's still around and evidently having a good life. And I'm happy to be reading about his former teammates from 1972-73 who, contrary to all the sportswriters who said he was a trophy bride back then, claim he was still a force to reckoned with, both from his bat and the spirit he brought to the team. Man, I'd really love to meet him one day.

Rev Matt
June 7, 2004
The best player ever to put on a pair of spikes, plain and simple. He had it all. Had he not played all those years at Candlestick he would have been the all- time home run leader.

I was eight years old when he was traded to The Mets. Though he was past his prime, I can tell my kids that I saw the greatest baseball player of all time.

September 9, 2004
My father and grandfather saw him play at the Polo Grounds, and they remembered him better than I do.

I just remember him as a Met, playing a gimpy first base, the 1973 World Series, hosing up a fly ball in his very last start, and that great speech he made in his farewell night...."The way these kids are playing today, it's telling me one thing, 'Willie, say goodbye to America.'"

That was the night Dave Augustine hit that shot that bounced off the fence and into Cleon Jones' glove.

I wish I could have seen him in his prime.

Jonathan Stern
March 18, 2005
I never saw Willie Mays play. My memories are almost exclusively 1973 World Series centerfield miscues and cheesy local commercials filmed with handheld cameras. Sad memories, those of the 1973 series being particularly painful to watch. It's tough to be an aging ballplayer, tougher still to be retired.

Q: Who was behind the plate for the Giants when Willie hit his first homer as a Met?

A: Fran Healy.

I recall a recent broadcast where the footage was replayed and the other announcers razzed Fran. Fran was not amused.

Fan 5/31/64 - 8/11/94
April 6, 2005
I've heard folks older than me say, "yeah kid, but you've never seen DiMaggio". Regardless, this man was the greatest that I've ever seen. He could do it all and could do it when it counted most. Remember that a fierce wind blew IN from LF at Candlestick, Wille was a line drive hitter and he still hit all those HR's.

Ron Serafin
October 13, 2005
Wow! What can be said about the "Say Hey" kid that hasn't already been said. I was 11 when the Mets traded for Willie. I mean, as a kid, Willie Mays was a GOD. I remembered his last good years with the Giants in the late 60's. And, now, Willie was coming home to NY. I saw him play a few times in 72 and 73. Saw him rob Aaron of a home run in a game that, I think, Aaron had already hit two. He couldn't do the things he did before, but he was a drawing card and a PR move.

In his prime, nobody could touch Mays. If not for the move to SF, he would have shattered the home run record. Nobody will ever know how many homers he lost to the wind in SF. And, in 1972, before Rusty Staub got hurt, I think they viewed Willie as a great veteran presence for that team, that would have contended if not for losing Staub for the year with an injury.

Yes, as kids we took pix of Willie's Imperial with the "SAY HEY" plates on it. Have those somewhere at home. I was also one of the lucky 55,000 to be in attendance the night of "Willie Mays Night."

I hated to see Willie struggle in the series in the OF, but if not for Rusty Staub's injury, he would have just been a pinch hitter. To this day I say the Mets should have shoved John Milner in right field and let Willie play first when Rusty couldn't play. That could have made a difference. But, at least Willie got to go out with a pennant race, playoffs and a World Series appearance. Couple of breaks and he could have left with a ring.

January 3, 2006
I too was about 10 when the Mets brought Willie back to NY. A PR move? Perhaps, but so what? I always thought of it as a way for Willie to say good bye to NY, and something that was done to benefit both him and the Mets. My dad was a big Willie Mays fan and always wanted to name my older brother Willie. I guess my mom won out on that one, though.

My biggest memories of Willie coming to the Mets are:

  • The buzz of excitment around the city when they got him. It was tangible.
  • His first game as a Met. I remember the crowd going delirious when Willie came to the on deck circle. The crowd erupted every time he did something. Anything. I can vividly recall the cheers when he knocked the dirt out of his spikes.
  • The night he retired. First time I ever saw this giant of a man (my dad) cry. Couldn't reconcile it then. I can now. Thank you Willie. Thank you for everything you gave my dad.

August 23, 2006
My first memory of Willie is wacthing him in the 1973 World Series on his knees pleading with the home plate ump. Not really knowing who he was. My father then told me everything about him and his days with the NY Giants, and the catch in the 1954 World Series in deep centerfield, over his shoulder. I just couldn't believe it. Just then they showed a clip of that catch. My father just looked at me and smiled, and said, "That's the man I will always remember."

October 6, 2006
Willie was as great a player as any in history and has been justly rewarded with his MVPs, Hall of Fame induction, etc. He's also had his number 24 retired by the Giants.

However, that number should NOT be retired by the Mets. All he really did with them was finish his career and serve as a part-time coach. He was not very productive when wearing blue and orange. Only two Mets have worn the number since Willie, but there's no reason that 24 can't be worn by other Mets' players.

Yes, I know he spent over 5 years in New York with the Giants, but so what. Uniform numbers are retired by TEAMS, not cities. Except for his game-winning RBI in Game 2 of the '73 World Series, he didn't do anything noteworthy as a Met. If the team ever does retire his number, it wouldn't be right.

Jamey Bumbalo
November 9, 2006
Of course he was one of the greatest baseball players of all time, but this site is about the Mets, so I think his Hall of Fame career with the Giants is irrelevant here. Let's face it--with the Mets he was way past his prime and was a surly has-been. The main thing I remember about his time with the Mets was in the 1973 World Series when he was on his knees at home plate, pleading with the umpire that Bud Harrelson was safe. (Which of course he was.)

November 11, 2006
Sorry, IntroMET, I can't agree with you about not retiring Willie's number 24. Some players are so great that they transcend the game itself. I'd rank Willie as the second-greatest player of all time, after Babe Ruth. Maybe you weren't around when the Mets got him in '72, but let me tell you there was so much excitement! Willie was always the favorite of the New York fans, even after the Giants left for San Francisco. It only seemed fitting that he end his career in New York. There was a cosmic connection there. As to your contention that numbers are only retired by teams, not cities, remember that Jackie Robinson's number has been retired by every major league team, even though he only played for the Dodgers. That's a sign of respect for Jackie's importance to the game. That's true for Willie Mays in New York, too.

Steve Wishnak
May 14, 2007
I really do think that Willie Mays was a great player but I also think that Willie Mays was one of the major reasons the Mets lost the 1973 World Series. Yogi Berra played Mays in center field for two games and Willie looked veryyyyyyyyyyy lost out there. He even stumbled a few times going back on fly balls. Sorry to say Mays fans but he should have retired before the 1973 season.

Michael Evans
September 23, 2007
1964 Game Giants Vs Phillies in Shibe Park. Mays was playing close in on Ruben Amaro, a utility man who rarely hit the ball out of the infield. It was the 4 inning with two out in a one run game. Uncharacteristically Amaro let loose a long drive that headed all the way out to the 385 foot sign on the right center field wall. Mays whirled and tore after it. He grabbed the ball just before it hit the wall, flipped his legs out before him so that his feet rather than his head would take the impact, and crashed off the wall, and onto his back. The ball was still in his glove.

May 25, 2008
My biggest memory of Willie is when he was traded to the Mets in May of 1972. There was much excitement about his "coming home." It was all over the media and everyone around town was talking about it.

However, in retrospect, what that did was throw the rest of the ball club into the background. Every other Met player - even Tom Seaver - was overshadowed by his presence. Suddenly, everything with the Mets was about Willie and not the team. It shouldn't have been like that, especially since the Mets had the National League's best record at the time of his arrival that season.

I think IntroMET makes a good point. The number 24 probably shouldn't be retired by the Mets. Even though the team did start an 11-game winning streak right after acquiring Willie, he didn't really help them that much. Also, from what I understand, the number's not being issued again was just part of the Mays "gift" to Joan Payson from M. Donald Grant - a person that Met fans would like to forget about.

Here's a solution. Instead of the Mets' retiring number 24 for Willie, the National League itself should do it. If Major League Baseball can honor Jackie Robinson the way it did, then the NL can do the same thing for Willie. This would be a bigger and more suitable honor for him than if it came only from the Mets. He'd also be very worthy of it.

Joe Figliola
November 12, 2008
Does anyone know anything concerning Willie's health? I ask this because during the Shea Stadium ceremony, he had someone accompany him on the field and guide him to home plate.

Best memory of Willie: Seeing him and getting his autograph at Prospect Park in Brooklyn in 1972, along with Matlack, Ted Martinez, and Grote. He was yakking up a storm with a nearby policeman while he was signing.

May 6, 2009
Mays would swing violently, practically throwing his entire body forward, and was frequently off-balance. If he were growing up today, coaches from Babe Ruth League onwards would force him to hit off a tee, to control his swing, to make him like every other hitter, to destroy his uniqueness, and he wouldn't be Willie anymore.

D. Shaw
May 12, 2010
We all remember the October, 1973 playoff game at Shea when Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose had their little get-together. I was in the mezzanine, down the LF line, and after the fight Sparky Anderson pulled the Reds off the field because people were throwing liquor bottles and batteries at Rose right below us. Mays, Seaver and someone else came out and pleaded with the fans to knock it off because the Mets were going to have to forfeit the game. Thankfully, calmer heads prevailed, Rusty Staub homered twice (swinging with only his left hand) and NY won 9-2....But Mays deserved a big thank-you.

Stu Baron
December 6, 2010
@Richard Kissel: Actually, Willie took no. 24 from Jim Beauchamp, who came to the Mets in the trade that sent Shamsky to St. Louis after the 1971 season.

Michael Evans
July 2, 2011
Last game in the Polo Grounds, Sept 1957, while Willie was a member of the NY Giants, Bob Skinner of Pittsburgh hits a long drive to left center field. It goes to the wall. Another outfielder retrieves it and then throws to Willie who is not at the warning track. Willie has to pick the ball up and with his back to the plate like a discus thrower whirls and fires, on one bounce to the plate. Skinner is out trying to stretch a triple.

Jeff Cohen
July 14, 2011
I was 10 years old when Willie Mays was traded to the Mets. My dad and grandfather took me to Willie Mays' first game as a Met. It was against the Giants and Willie had a home run to win the game. I remember it as clearly today as I did on that day.

George H
April 13, 2012
1964: Mets-Giants Sunday doubleheader, game two goes extra innings and I believe lasts 23 innings. Mays played shortstop for the latter part of the game because Jints ran out of infielders. Jim Davenport gets key hit in top of 23rd and Jints win 8-6.

1965 or so: Danny Napolean, an upcoming prospect, hits a drive into left center at Candlestick Park. The wind carries the ball, Willie Mays climbs the chain link fence using his spikes and robs Napolean of an extra base hit. The spikes get caught in the fence but he has the presence of mind to somehow toss the ball to the left fielder who gets it back into the infield.

April 26, 2012
Done by 1972, The Mets would have been better served in 1973 by obtaining Jim Ray Hart and/or Matty Alou for the 1973 team. Both players, though limited, were available and would have contributed more than Mays during the 1973 World Series.

Tom L
April 28, 2014
I can remeber be as excited as an 8 year old can get when I heard the news that we were getting Willie Mays back in 72. I remember envisioning an outfield of Agee, Jones and the "Say Hey Kid" ranking with the greatest of all-time. I guess that was my first taste of "Met Reality". Agee was gone by seasons end, Jones was spending the better portions of 72 and 73 nursing injuries and I had come to the realization that despite the fact that I was getting to see a living legend play, he was not the same player who could hit 40 HR's and drive in 100 RBI's like the back of my baseball cards showed him accomplishing a few years earlier. Oh well, it was still great to see him finish up in NY!

One memory of Willie maybe someone can clear up that I did not see mentioned anywhere. I recall a game where Wille fielded a base hit to the gap (not sure if it was left-center or right center). I guess he might have been nursing an injury or something, because he flipped the ball to the other outfielder who was not expecting him to do that and they dropped it. The batter ended up taking second base on the play. The official scorer spared Wille the error and gave it to the other outfielder! I was thinking it was either Theodore or Hahn. Does anyone else remember this? Thanks!

Meadowlands Mike
August 11, 2015
I understand the negative comments about Mays with the Mets in 1972 and 1973. In 1972, though, he was acquired likely for his post-career contributions, and bringing some publicity for the Mets. His role was to spell Kranepool at 1B and Agee in CF.

In limited games he hit .267 (2nd on team), had an OBA of .402 (led team) a slugging percetnage of .446 (2nd on team) and an OPS of .848 (led team). He also had 8 go-ahead hits in 1972. In CF, he played about half as many innings, but he had a higher fielding percentage than Agee and threw out 3 runners, Agee had 6. Mays had a higher kill ratio on baserunners and a higher hold percentage for baserunners. Agee's range factor was 2.64 per 9 innings, Mays's was 2.59, close to Agee (was was 29 and Mays was 41)

Agee's Offensive WAR was .8 and his Defensive WAR was -.9. Mays's Offensive WAR was 1.9 and his Defensive WAR was -.04.

Bottom line, in 1972, Mays was the best centerfielder.

He slumped with Giants, but from the time he got to Mets until he did run out of gas August 20, Mays hit .288 with 8 HRs.And Mets won a higher percentage of games with him starting that they did without him.

In 1973 he, like in 1972 slumped then hurt a shoulder running against a wall. He went on DL for first time in his career. Upon his return he het .250 for 6 HRs to the time he, again in August ran out of gas.

In the NLCS and World Series, he hit .300 with two game-winning RBIs. He also has the mishaps in the field, his legs were not under him.

So, by Willie Mays standards, it was not much of a contribution. But for the Mets, he did contribute. In both seasons he had hot streaks after early-season slumps and late-season slumps.

And remember the other CF in 1973 was Don Hahn. May's Offensive WAR and Defensive WAR and Total WAR were better than Hahn. Again, as dismal as 1973 was, Mays was best CF Mets had.

Shickhaus Franks
November 25, 2015
I was born in 1966 so I didn't get to see the 5-tool awesomeness of Willie but I do remember the 1973 post-season and him falling in the outfield (Recently Peyton Manning has been compared to him). Yesterday, President Obama gave Willie the Presidential Metal of Freedom along with the late Yogi Berra. Long, long overdue moment for both!

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