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Willie Mays turns 80

May 6, 2011, 12:05 PM EDT

Willie Mays Swing

Today is Willie Mays’ 80th birthday.  The occasion has brought forth a ton of remembrances of the man’s career, and with a guy like Mays they’re all worth reading.  I was particularly fond of this one in the San Jose Mercury News.  Comcast Sports Bay Area has been running a series of stories on Mays’ life and career as well, including this one on the catch he made in the 1954 Series.  Comcast will also be running a one-hour documentary on the Say Hey Kid on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 Pacific time, following the Giants-Rockies game.

I never got a chance to see Mays play, but the one thing that strikes me about him — apart from his obvious greatness — is that he had a game unlike that of most players in the 50s, what with the combination of speed, power and defense.  I often wonder which players from previous eras could compete if they were put in a time machine and plopped into 2011.  I’m sure most of the superstars would still be pretty darn good, but Mays is the one who I bet would lose the least of any of them.

  1. Utley's Hair - May 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Sey Hey-py birthday to Willie.

  2. Ducky Medwick - May 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Truly worth reading every word. Here’s my contribution:

  3. cur68 - May 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    WillIIe Mays shouldn’t be 80. He should be 25 for the rest of his life. I’d like to add my birthday wishes to everyones elses and my wish is for him to be 25 again.

    • Old Gator - May 7, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      I’d like to add my birthday wishes to the Kid as well. I saw his last game at Shea Stadium when he was with the Mutts. It killed you to realize what was happening but you couldn’t help being grateful for the chance to have seen him play.

      I wish he could be 25 forever too. However, if there’s only room for one of us to be 25 forever, I’d pick myself. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

  4. leftywildcat - May 6, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    If the Polo Grounds outfield hadn’t had such deep fences, and if the wind at Candlestick Park wasn’t always blowing in, he probably would be the home run king.

  5. kopy - May 6, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    He was such a great player. As a Minneapolis native, I’m privy to the handed-down folklore of when Willie Mays briefly played for the AAA Minneapolis Millers. He was so good, and such a fan favorite, that the New York Giants purchased ads in the Minneapolis Tribune that apologized for calling him up and forcing him to leave the Millers.

  6. jlhc5530 - May 6, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Joe Pos’s (as usual) is my favorite piece today:

    He may be the Mays of sportswriting…

  7. danberman4 - May 7, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Hard to believe the Say Hey Kid is 80. He’ll always evoke fond memories of baseball in the ’60s for me.

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