To understand Willie Mays, the oldest residing Corridor of Famer at age 90, is to recollect him at 20. When he joined the New York Giants in 1951, the sport had by no means seen an athlete like him — breathtakingly swish, the best mixture of energy, pace and protection ever to put on a serious league uniform. And 70 years later, to many, he stays exactly that.
“You’d sit on the bench and watch Willie Mays,” Corridor of Famer Reggie Jackson stated. “It was so thrilling simply to look at him. Individuals did that with Jim Brown. They did that with the acrobatics and greatness of [Michael] Jordan. It is like gamers at the moment going to look at the pregame warm-ups of Steph Curry. To observe Willie heat up, to throw the ball underhand, to make a basket catch. The sweetness and the grace. For the children at the moment, it was like watching Simone Biles. It was like watching [Mikhail] Baryshnikov. It was poetry in movement. It was so lovely, so fairly, to look at this athlete simply run on the sphere, catch a ball. I liked to play towards Willie Mays as a result of it meant that I acquired to watch Willie Mays.”
Mays was one of many three nice middle fielders in New York, becoming a member of the Yankees’ sensational Mickey Mantle and Dodgers Corridor of Famer Duke Snider. However as Mantle as soon as stated, “Nicely, there have been the 2 of us … after which there was Willie.”
Ken Griffey Jr. made it even easier.
“I name him ‘The Godfather of Middle Fielders,'” Junior stated.
And what of these comparisons, that Griffey could be the following Mays?
“In baseball, comparisons are all the time made, however I did not examine myself to him,” Griffey stated. “However I additionally did not not wish to be in comparison with him, if that is smart. You all the time wish to be in comparison with one of the best.”
Lon Simmons, a Corridor of Fame broadcaster who referred to as Giants video games all 14 years that Mays performed in San Francisco as soon as the group moved west in 1958, stated, “Willie was so good, the followers anticipated a miracle from him on daily basis. So he gave them a miracle each different day.”
Mays is usually thought-about not solely the best middle fielder of all time, however after Babe Ruth, the best participant of all time. I as soon as requested Doug Rader, a five-time Gold Glove third baseman for the Astros from 1967 to 1977 and a later an enormous league supervisor, who was one of the best participant he had ever seen. Rader laughed.
“Invoice Mays, who else?” he stated.
Corridor of Famer Juan Marichal agreed.
“Willie was one of the best, No. 1 all time … and I do know,” Marichal stated. “I used to be there for lots of Willie.”
Who else? Willie Mays was that good.
“He was magical,” Corridor of Fame catcher Johnny Bench stated. “He was excellent.”
“Greatest participant I’ve ever seen,” stated Tim McCarver, a former catcher who performed in 4 many years and later grew to become a Corridor of Fame broadcaster. “He may do all of the issues that different guys could not.”
“He was the primary participant to have real swag,” Astros supervisor Dusty Baker stated.
There have been five-tool gamers earlier than Mays, however all of Mays’ instruments have been among the many finest within the recreation, like a lead singer who wrote the songs and will additionally play all of the devices higher than anybody within the band. Mays’ 12 Gold Gloves are essentially the most ever by a participant within the 500-home run membership. When he retired in 1973, he was third all time in homers after averaging 33 a yr.
Certainly, he may play the piano and transfer it, too.
“He has all the identical traits as Mike Trout,” Pete Rose stated. “However [Trout] does not have Willie’s aptitude.”
It virtually wasn’t truthful.
“Willie Mays was too good,” former teammate Felipe Alou stated.
Soar to a piece:
THE BAT | THE GLOVE | THE ARM | THE LEGS |
THE SAY HEY KID
Mays hit 660 residence runs, now sixth most of all time. He had 3,283 hits, eleventh most ever. He received two MVPs, 11 years aside. He had a .302 common, an OPS over .900 for 13 straight years, an OPS over 1.000 in 5 seasons. He received a Nationwide League batting title and 4 residence run titles. He performed 14 years in Candlestick Park, an enormous ballpark with swirling winds; in one other residence ballpark, he may need hit 700 homers. If he hadn’t missed almost two prime seasons to navy service, he may need hit nearer to 800. His swing was quick and compact. He usually stepped within the bucket, however may nonetheless cowl the skin a part of the plate.
Former supervisor Bobby Valentine
“It was a distinct pontificate his bat. Sooner or later I acquired to the ballpark very early simply to take a look at his bats. I went to the opposite dugout to see in the event that they have been completely different. They have been heavy; they weren’t completely different. He was completely different.”
“I felt sorry for Willie in a method having to play at that s—hole Candlestick. That was the worst place on the earth to play baseball. It was all the time windy and chilly. The solar was all the time in your eyes. There have been 10,000, 12,000 individuals at each recreation. If he performed at the moment within the bandboxes in Cincinnati and Philadelphia and another locations, he’d hit 70 homers a yr. He wasn’t only a energy hitter. He was hitter. He liked to speak hitting. If he had hit behind me and [Joe] Morgan, he’d have pushed in 500 or 600 extra runs.”
Former supervisor and catcher Joe Torre
“Willie was a left-center, right-center hitter. The ballparks he performed did not assist him. He hit 660 residence runs, however he needed to earn each one in every of them at residence. The Polo Grounds was quick down the traces, however within the hole, they have been very deep. And he performed at Candlestick. After midday, the ball would fly to proper area, however you would shoot a bazooka off in left area a few of these nights and the ball would not go anyplace.”
One night time in Milwaukee in 1961, Mays hit 4 residence runs in a single recreation.
“The wind knocked one other one down. In any other case, he would have had 5.”
“Willie did not like to attend within the field. He desires you to throw the ball proper now. There have been instances the place I would put an indication down, however I would not put something down. And Willie would speak to you. He’d say, ‘I do know what you are doing. I do know what you are doing.’ It was unattainable to not love him although he scared you to demise as a result of he was so good. One time, I attempted to distract him by speaking to him. I requested him a query on the plate, I do not keep in mind what it was about, possibly a few restaurant, and whereas answering the query, he hit the ball out of the ballpark. Then he form of made a half flip to me as he began to first base and advised me, ‘I am going to end the story later.'”
“Willie would come to the plate and he was swinging his bat backwards and forwards as solely Willie may. And each time he swung this fashion, he’d return this fashion [toward the catcher], he could be in search of the signal. There was nobody doing the drums or banging trash cans again then. However Peanuts Lowrey [the Giants first-base coach] was telling him what pitch was coming. So I am squatting again there, and Willie steps out of the field, appears at me and says, ‘Are you going to name a sign or what?’ And I stated, ‘As quickly as you cease trying again right here.’ And he laughed and stated, ‘Oh, you bought me! Oh, you bought me!'”
Most of that energy got here from Mays’ legendarily robust fingers.
“I as soon as went as much as him behind the batting cage as a rookie. I requested him, ‘Why do you play me proper behind second base? I am going to hit that ball over your head.’ Willie stated, ‘Boy, since you choke up on the bat. You ain’t robust sufficient to hit that ball over my head. That is why I play you proper behind second base.’ Then he confirmed me his fingers. The muscle between his thumb and his forefinger regarded like a golf ball in there. He stated, ‘Boy, let me see your fingers.’ I had nothing. He stated, ‘That is why I play you behind second base.’ So I instantly went to squeezing hand grips to get that muscle in there.”
“While you shook Willie’s hand, you have been shaking a hand — a person’s hand. It is him, Rico Carty and Hank [Aaron]. Willie’s hand would engulf your hand. It gulped it up.”
Duane Kuiper, former main league and Giants broadcaster
“The reality is that these guys who performed within the ’60s all had large, robust fingers — Mays, Aaron, [Willie] McCovey, [Frank] Robinson, [Orlando] Cepeda. They have been all like dairy farmers who milked cows by hand. With these guys, you needed to get your hand in there first or they’d crush it. My dad all the time advised me, ‘You need to win the handshake.’ However with Willie, you could not.”
Bench (who has his personal huge fingers)
“Willie’s fingers are so thick. After we performed golf, we each had the outsized grips. He’d come over, seize my golf equipment and say, ‘These really feel good.'”
“Willie additionally had big forearms. Look, I am as large as Willie Mays [both around 5-11 and 170-190 pounds]. And he hit 660 homers and I had 160.”
Mays received 12 Gold Gloves. Contemplate this, although: They did not start being awarded till 1957; he may have received 16. He had super pace, unbelievable vary and acquired nearly as good a leap on the ball as anybody ever.
Former Giants pitcher Steve Stone
“He was one of the best middle fielder within the recreation when he was 39 years previous. It is really superb how lengthy he was in a position to preserve his abilities.”
Mays’ signature was the well-known basket catch: As a substitute of catching the ball in entrance of his face as did and does each different outfielder, Mays would usually nonchalantly catch it at his hip.
“And he by no means missed one. He was so easy. Again then, you wished to place mustard on him. However that was simply his pure potential and the grace he had in performing. Virtually each recreation it looks like he made a tremendous play. You possibly can have two had outfielders, put the opposite within the infield, as a result of Willie lined all of it.”
“[Cardinals teammate] Curt Flood was one of the best I’ve ever seen towards the wall. He was higher than Willie towards the wall. However Curt performed deep. Willie did not play deep; he performed shallow. Willie by no means went to the wall. Willie was the wall.”
Alou (who performed left or proper area subsequent to Mays for six years)
“I discovered myself at instances watching the sport like a fan would watch a recreation. A ball could be hit and I might say, like a fan or a broadcaster, ‘Is he actually going to catch this one?’ He had a tremendous first step. He was overlaying half of the sphere by himself.”
“Chris Speier [who was a rookie with the Giants in 1971] advised me tales that Willie was calling pitches from middle area for the pitcher to throw a sure hitter. He and Hank Aaron, in these days, they did not have scouting stories. They might inform the place a man was going to hit the ball by his hand place: If his fingers have been outdoors the zone, he was going to tug the ball. If his fingers have been in tight, he was going to attempt to inside-out the ball to the alternative area. These guys studied all of the hitters again then. They did not want a scout.”
Corridor of Famer Tony Perez
“The most effective play I ever noticed him make was the ball that Vada Pinson hit to right-center area at Candlestick. Willie ran the ball down, collided with [right fielder Bobby] Bonds and caught the ball. I do not understand how Willie caught it.”
“Leon [Wagner] may hit, however you by no means knew the place he would possibly catch the ball. So someday, there is a excessive fly ball. I am going after it. I feel Leon goes to catch it, however he is simply standing there like this [hands at his side]. So I jumped, I put my foot proper in his belt buckle. I caught the ball and got here down on him. I assumed, ‘Oh no, I reduce him.’ I went to him and stated, ‘Leon, pull up your shirt. Let me see the place I reduce you.’ There have been no marks. I do not understand how. I hit him with my spikes in his belt buckle. Nobody goes to imagine that catch.”
Mays made maybe the best defensive play — and essentially the most well-known — in World Collection historical past when he robbed the Indians’ Vic Wertz with a operating catch in deep middle area in 1954.
Corridor of Famer Bob Feller
“That actually wasn’t that nice of a catch. As quickly because it was hit, everybody on our bench knew that he was going to catch it … as a result of he’s Willie Mays.”
“I’ve the final glove that Willie Mays wore. It says 1954 World Champions on it. I purchased it.” For a way a lot? “Let’s simply say, if I bought it, it might take between $200,000-$250,000. I purchased it as a result of nobody used a glove higher than Willie Mays.”
Mays had a tremendously robust and correct arm, which is important for a middle fielder. A throw to the plate has to have sufficient carry to get it over the mound.
“You already knew there have been guys that you just by no means, ever ran on. You had respect for these guys. Willie charged the ball in addition to anybody who ever performed baseball. He was in a position to choose the pace of the ball so properly so he may scoop and throw.”
“Johnny Keane [the Cardinals manager from 1961 to 1964] advised us in conferences, ‘Do not run on Willie, he’ll throw you out. He is baiting you. He desires you to suppose he cannot, after which he does.’ Willie figured it out. Willie all the time figured every little thing out.”
“They [people in baseball] advised me, ‘You may’t do round-robin.’ That is throwing out a runner at first base, second base, third base and residential in the identical recreation. I stated, ‘I can do this. What are you speaking about?’ So, we’re at Dodger Stadium, [Don] Drysdale hits the ball over the center for a base hit. I watched him, he put his head down and began strolling to first. I assumed, ‘I acquired him.’ So I threw him out at first. He stubborn me one thing fierce. The following inning, Maury Wills went to 3rd, he tried to attain on a fly ball, and I threw Maury out at residence. The following inning, Willie Davis tried to go from first to 3rd. I threw him out at third. Jim Lefebvre hits a ball within the hole. I had him out by 5 ft at second base, [Giants second baseman] Tito [Fuentes] had him, however he did not squeeze the ball. Tito was crying at second base. He knew what I used to be attempting to do. So I needed to name time. I am going in and advised Tito, ‘Don’t be concerned, it is not the tip of the world.’ He stated, ‘Sure, it’s. I do know round-robin was proper there in your grasp.’ I advised him, ‘Don’t be concerned, I am going to get it the following time.’ However, I by no means got here shut … however I might have had it that day.”
Corridor of Famer and former Mays teammate Orlando Cepeda
“Ave Maria! I by no means noticed anybody go from first to 3rd on Willie’s arm. Felipe Alou was an important proper fielder, however Willie as soon as advised Felipe on a fly ball hit by Willie Kirkland to proper middle, ‘Let me take it, let me take it.’ So Willie caught the ball on the 390-foot register right-center area, and he threw a low throw, on the road, within the air, all the way in which to 3rd base. Willie had the best throwing arm I’ve ever seen, even higher than [Roberto] Clemente’s arm.”
“Earlier than each recreation that me [or] Gaylord [Perry] pitched, we would have a gathering about how we have been going to pitch the opposite group that night time. It was all the time a three-man assembly. Me, the catcher and Willie Mays. He used to assist us on tips on how to pitch all of the hitters on the opposite group. Willie knew precisely what to do with every hitter.”
It wasn’t simply the stolen bases that separated Mays from different gamers, particularly different energy hitters. It was his innate really feel for baserunning, going first to 3rd, scoring from second on a single, legging out one of many 140 triples he hit, together with a league-best 20 in 1957.
“He was one of many biggest. He would go from first base to 3rd on a ball to proper middle. He did not even have to take a look at the third-base coach. He was his personal coach.”
“He was a terror on the bases.”
“I used to be all the time advised that Jackie Robinson was the one baserunner higher than Willie, however I used to marvel, ‘How will you be a greater runner than Willie Mays?’ I noticed him rating standing up at the least 10 instances on a wild pitch that wasn’t 10 ft from residence plate.”
Corridor of Famer Willie McCovey (who often hit behind Mays within the lineup)
“Willie would begin to run to second on the wild pitch or a handed ball, then return to first as a result of he knew they’d stroll me with first base open. Oh, Willie noticed all of it.”
“Willie had nice instincts on the bases and he was all the time aggressive. I used to be an aggressive baserunner additionally. I developed my baserunning abilities watching Willie Mays play.”
“Willie was hitting 50 homers so you may’t afford to have him operating and getting damage on a regular basis. You may say twenty ninth [all time in steals when he retired], however he may have simply moved into the highest 10. And on a single, it might have been unusual if he did not go first to 3rd. He had the most effective turns rounding second or third you would probably have. Together with his agility, he made essentially the most excellent turns.”
“After I retired, I took Willie to the attention physician a number of instances. He had early glaucoma. Sooner or later, we’re driving and I requested him about [Jose] Canseco going 40-40 [homers and stolen bases in one season]. I stated to Willie, ‘What do you consider these guys going 40-40? You probably did 30-30 a few instances.’ Willie stated, ‘Oh, hell, 40-40, that is nothing. I may have executed 50-50 any time. I wished to steal my bases when it mattered, for the group.'”
“The best baserunner I’ve ever seen. He made triples look straightforward. I used to hit behind Willie within the order. When he was on base, I might watch him run. I attempted to imitate him, to do what he did on the bases. However I could not. Nobody may.”
“I assumed I had a reasonably good arm. I assumed I used to be going to throw Willie out at third base someday. I had him out. He ran proper in the way in which of the ball, it hit him within the shoulder. I acquired an error, and he scored. I swear to God, he regarded again, he noticed the place the throw was, he simply ran proper into the trail of the ball. I advised the umpire, ‘He cannot do this!'”
The Say Hey Child
Willie Mays is a personality. He’s supremely assured, even boastful at instances, but additionally self-deprecating and playful, all the time up for fun. And his snicker, that fantastic snicker, that high-pitched voice that did not match his physique or mystique. He was so revered by teammates, but additionally by opponents. A lot in order that Dodgers supervisor Walter Alston, greater than as soon as, whereas managing the NL All-Star group, had Mays make out the beginning lineup.
“Walter advised me, ‘Willie, you realize these guys higher than I do, you make the batting order.’ So I hit myself leadoff, Roberto [Clemente] hit second and Hank [Aaron] third. I figured I would get on, Roberto would get me over and Hank would get me in.”
“The primary time I met him I used to be 17, enjoying within the Educational League. I could not imagine it was taking place. I used to be advised, ‘Willie Mays desires to fulfill you.’ I used to be like, ‘Oh, s—.’ So I began speaking to him. I missed the primary two innings of the Educational League recreation as a result of I used to be speaking to Willie Mays. However my supervisor did not care. He stated, ‘He’ll study extra speaking to Willie Mays than he will study enjoying in his rattling recreation at the moment. Let him speak so long as he likes.” And what did Mays inform Griffey that day that Griffey will always remember? “He stated, ‘You are going to be good. You are going to be actual good.’ … He’s such a caring particular person. He advised me, at age 17, to name him if I wanted something. He did not have to do this. However I might have my dad name him first. I could not simply name Willie Mays.”
“[First baseman] Invoice White was enjoying for the Cardinals. He and Gibby [Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson] went to San Francisco within the offseason. Invoice was invited to Willie’s home for dinner, and he requested Gibby if he wished to go. Bob stated, ‘I would like to go, I’ve by no means met Willie Mays.’ They ring the doorbell. Willie involves the door. Within the offseason, Gibby all the time wore glasses, however he did not put on them when he pitched. So Willie opens the door, he says good day to Invoice, then he says, ‘Who is that this?’ Invoice stated, ‘Willie, that is Bob Gibson.’ Willie did not say good day to him, all he stated was, ‘You put on glasses!? And you do not put on them once you pitch? Are you loopy? You are going to damage any person!'”
Mays wasn’t good to solely the celebs.
“The primary time I met Willie was the day I used to be referred to as as much as the large leagues for the primary time, July 10, 1960. Willie was so good to me, however he was so good to everybody. He took me out to dinner, however he took everybody out to dinner. He used to take teammates to a clothes retailer. And we would all come residence with a go well with, shirts, a coat, slacks, footwear. Willie was an important teammate.”
“He was nice to all us younger guys, guys of all colours. Willie gave me my first McGregor glove, again when gloves have been made out of kangaroos. That is outlawed now.”
“Essentially the most particular second of all for me was the 1968 All-Star Recreation on the Astrodome. I’m sitting at my locker, straight throughout from Willie. And I’m not shifting. I’m 20 years previous. I do not wish to [accidentally spike] anybody; I do not wish to act like I belonged there. Willie walked throughout from his locker to mine and says, ‘It is best to have been the beginning catcher.’ That was it. That was all I wanted. The validation. The validation I acquired from Willie. It was an honor to be round him. The enjoyment he introduced. He was the man you emulated in each method. He was every little thing that baseball ought to be … the Say Hey Child, man.”
“I as soon as went previous [the visiting clubhouse manager’s office at AT&T Park] and Willie was sitting in there with Willie McCovey. I simply tried to slip by, and Willie [Mays] got here out and stated, ‘Maintain up, maintain up. Are available in right here. You bought sufficient residence runs to be on this room.’ That made me really feel necessary.”
“My first All-Star Recreation was in 1965, and my locker was in between Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. And I assumed, ‘What the hell am I doing right here sitting between these guys?’ Willie went out of his option to make me really feel part of the group. I by no means forgot that.”
Mays is a good storyteller.
Mays (on dealing with Satchel Paige for the primary time in 1949)
“Satch would pitch to anybody that may pay him. I hit a double off the wall towards him. The man behind me, Jimmy Zapp, hit a house run. So later within the recreation, Satch advised his third baseman, ‘Let me know when that little boy come again up.’ I assumed he was speaking about any person else. So, within the third, I heard the third baseman say, ‘There he’s.’ I did not know who they have been speaking about. The catcher stated, ‘They’re speaking about you.’ I stated, ‘No method.’ So Satch walked midway to residence plate and stated, ‘Little boy,’ and I stated, ‘Sure sir.’ Satch was a lot older than I used to be. Satch stated, ‘Little boy, I am not going to trick you, I am going three fastballs, then you are going to go sit down.’ I stated, No a technique may he throw the identical pitch thrice and I do not hit it. He threw me the three damnedest fastballs. I did not come near hitting it. He stated, ‘Little boy, now you may go sit down.'”
“I wrote in my e book that Willie had the thickest fingers I’ve ever seen, and that he buffed his fingernails on daily basis. Daily. He got here as much as me and stated, in that high-pitched voice, ‘I heard that you just stated that I buffed my nails on daily basis. You are proper, I do!'”
“I feel it was throughout spring coaching [with the Reds], I used to be invited to dinner on the governor’s home [in Florida]. Jeb Bush was the governor. I used to be going to fly down there, however my supervisor [Bob Boone] advised me, ‘Ah, I do not suppose I can allow you to go.’ I advised him, ‘However Willie Mays invited me.’ [Boone] instantly stated, ‘Oh OK, go forward.’ That is how necessary Willie Mays is.”
“The primary time I heard of Willie Mays was the Vic Wertz catch, 1954, I used to be 8. We had a black-and-white TV. You needed to put 1 / 4 within the TV to look at it for an hour. That is the way you paid for it. As I grew up, I used to be a Willie Mays fan, however you needed to be a Dodger fan should you have been Black due to Jackie [Robinson] and Roy [Campanella] and Newk [Don Newcomb] and Junior Gilliam. However when Willie got here to city, I begged my dad to take me to the sport. After the sport, my dad took me all the way down to the place the gamers’ bus was. I crawled on the bottom, I crawled via individuals’s legs, and I watched Willie get on the bus. That was such a beautiful expertise for me.”
Corridor of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer
“The primary time I ever met him was in January 1969 at a golf occasion. His companion within the match was Joe Namath, who slept in on the day of the match and did not present up on the primary tee. So Willie did not play. Willie and I have been within the Lengthy Drive Contest collectively. Right here I’m, this skinny pitcher, and here is Willie Mays, so robust. So I received the Lengthy Drive Contest. Willie, in that high-pitched voice, advised me, ‘There isn’t any method you may outdrive me. Your ball hit the sprinkler head.’ I stated, ‘Nicely, all I do know is that my drive went 310 and yours went solely 290.’ Willie simply laughed.”
“Sooner or later at Candlestick, Jim Maloney was pitching for us [the Reds]. He threw actually arduous. Actually arduous. He additionally appreciated to fiddle, to have enjoyable, with gamers on the sphere. So Willie acquired within the field and Maloney went to his mouth like he was going to throw a spitball. As a substitute he threw a fastball proper down the center. Willie took it. He ended up strolling. When he acquired to first, I advised him, ‘You recognize, Maloney is loopy.’ And Willie laughed stated, ‘I do know. He is loopy. He is pretending to throw a spitball. He does not want it. He’ll kill somebody with that. Nevertheless it’s not going to be me as a result of I will not be in there!'”
“A buddy of mine, Dave, he lives in Hawaii. He is from the Bay Space, he is an enormous Giants fan, an enormous Willie fan. And his birthday is similar day as Willie — Could 6. So two or three years in the past, I stated, ‘I am going to let you realize once I’ll be in San Francisco and we’ll watch a recreation collectively.’ Unbeknownst to Dave, I organized for Willie to be on the ballpark. I pulled Willie out of the stands. He talked to Dave for an hour. Willie could not do sufficient for him. He signed something. He took photos with him. The capper for me was Willie says, ‘What else do you want?’ So Willie referred to as Mike Murphy, the clubhouse man for the Giants, and says, ‘Murph, get me a shirt.’ Willie took the shirt off his again, signed it and gave it to Dave. He actually gave him the shirt off his again. Dave has by no means stopped speaking about it clearly. He tries to purchase me breakfast, lunch and dinner each time I see him.”
“The primary batter I confronted in my first All-Star Recreation  was Willie Mays … the man I watched rising up in New York and California. I imply, actually, Willie Mays. And I struck him out on three excessive fastballs. I noticed him on the Corridor of Fame years later and he advised me, ‘I used to be advised you have been wild. I used to be advised you have been a sort of a headhunter.’ I wasn’t wild or a headhunter, however the first time I confronted Willie was such a thrill.”
“That was the factor about Willie. Irrespective of the place he was enjoying, he all the time performed with ardour, whether or not for the Giants, or a barnstorming recreation, or spring coaching or enjoying stickball within the streets of New York with youngsters. His focus was like nobody I had ever seen. And he liked me for some purpose. He referred to as me Chico as a result of it was arduous for him to say Felipe. Typically he referred to as me Phillip. However even at the moment, if we’re close to one another, he hears my voice from one other room, he acknowledges me and says, ‘Hey, it is Chico!'”
“Willie crammed in and did the colour commentary just a few instances a few years in the past earlier than Mike [Krukow, Kuiper’s current broadcast partner on Giants games] began doing video games. So I am the play-by-play man. It is Easter Sunday. Robby Thompson strikes out on a verify swing with the tying run at third to finish the sport. So, on Easter Sunday, Willie says, on the air, ‘Jesus Christ!’ I checked out him. I’ve to speak as a result of I am the play-by-play man, and all I may say was, ‘We’ll be again with Reverend Willie Mays, proper after this.'”
“The primary time we performed towards him, the primary time he got here to the plate, he stated, ‘Hey, how are you, child?’ He loves to inform the story about how he was on second base and he says, ‘Man, they [the Reds] acquired this hotshot catcher, I hope we get a base hit as a result of I’ll knock his ass into the dugout.’ Then he stated, ‘We acquired a base hit, I come round, and … have you ever slid right into a tree? I went backwards. I went again backwards.’ I am unable to inform what he stated after that, nevertheless it was like, ‘Get this off me, you broke my blanking leg.'”
“The primary time I met Willie Mays was my rookie yr in spring coaching enjoying for the A’s in 1969. Willie came to visit to the A’s bench and stated, ‘The place’s Reggie Jackson? Who’s this child Reggie Jackson? I wish to see Reggie Jackson.’ I met him. That was an enormous, large deal for me, for him to come back over to our dugout and ask for me. I acquired to shake his hand. So Catfish Hunter and Sal Bando advised me, ‘Reggie, do your Willie. Do your Willie.’ I may run like him. I may do this pigeon-toed stroll that he had. He cracked up laughing. Willie had his glove tucked beneath his arm. I stated, ‘What’s this factor in your glove? Buck?’ He stated, ‘That is my nickname.’ I stated, ‘That is actually cool.’ After that, Catfish and Bando and [Rollie] Fingers and [Joe] Rudi all the time referred to as me Buck ever since then.”
“[As the manager of the Rangers], I needed to go to inform Willie at an Previous-Timers’ Recreation that Joe [DiMaggio] wouldn’t come out on the sphere except he got here out final and was launched as the best residing participant. So Bobby Bragan made me inform Willie, Mickey [Mantle] and the Duke [Snider], one after the other, that Joe must come out final. Willie, with that high-pitched voice, stated, ‘Nicely, Joe truly thinks he’s the best residing participant. So possibly we should always let him.’ I advised Willie, ‘I’m so completely satisfied that you just stated that.'”
“One time on the Corridor of Fame, after the induction ceremony, all of us went again to the lodge for hors d’oeuvres. At our desk was Yogi [Berra], Whitey [Ford], Duke [Snider], Tommy Lasorda, Willie Mays and me. Now that is a desk. So Lasorda asks Yogi what he desires to placed on his tombstone. Yogi stated, ‘Oh, that is straightforward: It is over.’ You recognize, it is by no means over till it is over. Willie cackled. Willie has an important snicker.”
“In 2000 [during the playoffs], Willie was holding courtroom within the Giants’ clubhouse. I requested Murph [Mike Murphy, the Giants’ home clubhouse manager] if he may convey Willie over to speak to my guys. So, Willie comes over and talks to my gamers. Extremely, a few of them did not know who he was. This was 2000! That was worse than disgraceful.”
“They did not know who Willie Mays is? Do they know who God is?”
“I’ve a jersey signed by Willie. It says: ‘From One Child To One other Child. The Say Hey Child.’ That’s prominently displayed in my man cave at residence. Individuals are available and have a look at it and say, ‘Is that him?’ I stated, ‘Sure, that is Willie Mays.'”