He knew when to massage Willie's fragile ego and how to build his confidence, inserting himself into Mays' life as surrogate father, and allowing him to develop into one of the game's all-time greats. Hirsch has written a biography that embraces the person as well as the ballplayer. By the end of 1961, Marghuerite Mays had filed for divorce she died in 2010 and Willie Mays was dating Mae Louise. What is especially remarkable is that the promise shown by his 1954 season would later be confirmed in season after season of excellence, beginning with the 51 homers he clubbed in 1955. You're the best center fielder I've ever looked at. Afterward from 1958 through 1972, he played with the San Francisco Giants.
Not that it stained the overall picture. Member of 1962 National League Champion San Francisco Giants team. While Mays was not a particularly big man, he was so gifted an athlete and he hit the baseball squarely and hard with such regularity that he could reportedly alter the number of home runs he hit depending on the needs of his team. Mays moved to Harlem, New York. Like all of us, Willie Mays had his flaws and was far from perfect.
He was gifted with superior athletic genes — his dad and grandfather both played semi-pro baseball, and his mom starred in basketball and track in high school — and he always seemed to have the proper guidance in place. This is a superb baseball book, but it's also a riveting narrative of Mays' life and times. However, John admitted that he never witnessed Mays taking it. What separates Mays from the rest was the passion and energy with which he played the game. The Giants went on to sweep a three game series with the Dodgers, however, and after winning sixteen games in a row they managed to catch their rivals on the last day of the regular season and force a play-off for the pennant. I'm quite certain that Durocher's greatest contribution to baseball was taking a young, naive Willie Mays under his wing when he was the most vulnerable - at the very beginning of his career, when his success at the Major League level was very much in doubt. We learn that the affection was mutual and was most definitely real.
Further Reading on Willie Mays Mays, Willie, and Lou Sahadi, Say Hey: The Autobiography of Willie Mays, Simon and Schuster, 1988. Getting a baseball was just about the first thing I was able to do. After his promising start was interrupted by a stint in the Army, he returned to win a batting title and the National League's Most Valuable Player Award at age 23. Durocher, a Hall of Fame manager, and his wife, the lovely actress Lorraine Day, loved Mays like a son. Singer-songwriter paid tribute to Willie Mays and fellow baseball legends Ty Cobb and in his song Centerfield 1985.
The two years he lost in the major leagues during his time in the U. Like all of us, Willie the human being was far from perfect even though I still feel that he is the best all-around baseball player who I've ever seen. So gifted was Mays as a teenager that his friends urged him to try out for the Birmingham Black Barons, the local entry in the Negro Leagues, which was then the black equivalent of the major leagues. Hirsch does not overlook the troubled times in the life of Mays. I'm much more aware of that now after reading this book. Mays also married for the first time in 1956, wedding Marghuerite Wendell just before his 25th birthday.
The main reason was Giants could not guarantee his income after retirement; he was playing only part-time. But I say to players: Play as long as you can, because you only have one chance. Their marriage soon began to break down and they were separated by 1961. It's a must-read for any baseball fan. Facts of Willie Mays Date of Birth: Age: 87 years old Birth Nation: Height: Birth Name Willie Howard Mays Jr. Hirsch compellingly recounts Mays' career. Told Giants manager he wasn't coming because he felt he couldn't hit big league pitching.
I cried, I guess, because I loved baseball and I knew I had to leave it. Mays's combination of speed and power had never been seen before: sluggers do not often steal bases, and they are often maladroit in the outfield. When he knew I could chase a ball, he gave me batting lessons. Doing It All It should not be forgotten that 1954 was Mays's first full season in the big leagues. By mid-August of the 1951 season, neither the Giants nor their young prodigy appeared to be going anywhere fast.
In high school Willie Mays played basketball and football for school teams there was no baseball team. He dropped the cross three times, didn't he? His defensive skill helped the team to win the World Series Championship with a famous victory over Cleveland Indians. Entrapment and Mandatory Minimums With this evidence, the U. In spite of these sporadic problems, the Giants again rose to excellence in the 1965 season under manager Herman Franks, chasing the Dodgers for the pennant all year only to fall two games short at the end. Still only 20 years old, Mays was certain to develop into one of the game's leading players, but he and his fans would first have to endure a two-year hiatus while Mays served in the U. Great baseball reading, by an accomplished writer. Even if you think you know Mays, and even if, like me, you grew up watching him play, this work will grow your appreciation of him.