Appreciating Willie Mays, the oldest living Hall of Famer at age 90, means remembering him at age 20. When he joined the New York Giants in 1951, the game had never seen an athlete like him – breathtakingly graceful, the greatest combination of strength, speed, and defense to ever wear Major League uniform. And 70 years later, for many, it remains just that.
“You’d sit on the bench and watch Willie Mays,” said Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. “It was so exciting just to see him. People did that to Jim Brown. They did that to the acrobatics and the size of [Michael] Jordan. It’s like the players are watching Steph Curry’s warm-up practice before the game today. Watch Willie warm up, throw the ball under his hand, catch a basket. The beauty and the grace. For the children today it was like watching Simone Biles. It was like watching [Mikhail] Baryshnikov. It was poetry in motion. It was so nice to see so pretty how this athlete just ran on the field and caught a ball. I loved playing Willie Mays because it meant I had to do it Clock Willie Mays. “
Mays was one of New York’s three major center fielders, joining the Yankees’ sensational Mickey Mantle and the Dodgers Hall of Famer Duke Snider. But as Mantle once said, “Well, there we were … and then there was Willie.”
Ken Griffey Jr. made it even easier.
“I call him ‘The Godfather of the Center Fielders,'” said Junior.
And what about those comparisons that Griffey would be next May?
“There are always comparisons made in baseball, but I haven’t compared myself to him,” said Griffey. “But neither did I Not wants to be compared to him if that makes sense. You always want to be compared to the best. “
Lon Simmons, a Hall of Fame broadcaster who called the Mays in San Francisco every 14 years playing the Giants Games when the team moved west in 1958, said, “Willie was so good that the fans got one every day Expected miracles from him. So he gave them miracles every other day. “
Mays is widely regarded not only as the greatest midfielder of all time, but also as the greatest player of all time after Babe Ruth. I once asked Doug Rader, a five-time Gold Glove third baseman for the Astros from 1967 to 1977 and later a Big League manager who was the best player he had ever seen. Rader laughed.
“Bill Mays, who else?” he said.
Hall of Famer Juan Marichal agreed.
“Willie was the best, # 1 ever … and I know,” said Marichal. “I’ve been there for a lot of Willie.”
Who else? Willie Mays was so good.
“He was magical,” said Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench. “He was perfect.”
“Best player I’ve ever seen,” said Tim McCarver, a former catcher who played for four decades and later became a Hall of Fame broadcaster. “He could do all the things that other guys couldn’t.”
“He was the first player to have real booty,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker.
Before Mays, there were players with five tools, but all of Mays’ tools were among the best in the game, like a lead singer who wrote the songs and also could play all the instruments better than anyone else in the band. Mays’ 12 gold gloves are the most any player has ever played in the 500 home club. When he retired in 1973, he was third all-time at Homers averaging 33 a year.
Indeed, he could play the piano and move it too.
“He has all of the same qualities as Mike Trout,” said Pete Rose. “But [Trout] has no Willie flair. “
It was almost not fair.
“Willie Mays was also good, “said former team-mate Felipe Alou.
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THE BAT | THE GLOVE | THE ARM | THE LEGS |
THAT’S SAYING HEY KID
Mays reached 660 home runs, now in sixth place all time. He had 3,283 hits, the 11th all-time. He won two MVPs 11 years apart. He had an average of 0.302, an OPS of over 900 for 13 consecutive years, an OPS of over 1,000 for five seasons. He won a National League title and four home run titles. He played 14 years in Candlestick Park, a large stadium with swirling winds; At another home stadium he might have met 700 homers. If he hadn’t nearly missed two busy seasons of military service, he might have got closer to 800. His swing was short and compact. He stepped in the bucket often, but could still cover the outer part of the plate.
Former manager Bobby Valentine
“It was a different sound from his bat. One day I came to the ballpark very early to examine his bats. I went to the other shelter to see if they were any different. They were heavy; they were no different. He was different.”
“I was sorry that Willie had to play candlestick in a way on that hole. It was the worst place in the world to play baseball. It was always windy and cold. The sun was always in your eyes 10,000, 12,000 people at every game. If he played in the boxing boxes in Cincinnati and Philadelphia and some other places today, he’d hit 70 homers a year. He wasn’t just a power hitter. He was a good hitter. He loved to talk hitting. When he was would have hit behind me and [Joe] Morgan, he would have done 500 or 600 more runs. “
Former manager and catcher Joe Torre
“Willie was a batsman in left and right center. The ball parks he played didn’t help him. He hit 660 homers, but he had to earn each of them at home. But in the gap they were very deep. And he played at candlestick. After noon the ball flew to the right field, but some nights you could shoot a bazooka in the left field and the ball went nowhere. “”
One night in Milwaukee in 1961, Mays hit four home runs in one game.
“The wind knocked another down. Otherwise he would have had five.”
“Willie didn’t want to wait in the box. He wants you to throw the ball now. There have been times when I put a sign down but I didn’t put anything down. And Willie spoke to you. He said,” I know , what you do. I know what you’re doing. “It was impossible not to love him, even though he scared you to death for being so good. I tried to distract him once by talking to him. I gave him one Asked the question on the plate, I don’t remember what it was about, maybe about a restaurant, and while he was answering the question, he knocked the ball out of the stadium, then half-turned to me as he got to the first base went and said to me, “I’ll end the story later. ‘”
“Willie would be put on the plate and he swung his bat back and forth like only Willie could. And every time he swung this way, he went back that way [toward the catcher]he would look for the sign. Back then there was no one who played drums or hit trash cans. But peanuts Lowrey [the Giants first-base coach] told him what pitch would come. So I sit back there and Willie steps out of the box and looks at me and says, “Are you going to call a signal or what?” And I said, “As soon as you stop looking back here.” And he laughed and said, ‘Oh, you got me! Oh you got me! ‘”
Most of this power came from Mays’ legendary strong hands.
“I approached him once as a rookie behind the batting cage. I asked him, ‘Why are you playing me right behind second base? I’m going to hit that ball over your head.’ Willie said, “Boy, because you choked on the bat. You’re not strong enough to hit that ball over my head. So I’ll play you right behind second base. “Then he showed me his hands. The muscle between thumb and forefinger looked like a golf ball. He said,” Boy, let me see your hands. “I had nothing. He said: “That’s why I play you behind the second base.” So I immediately squeezed the handles to get the muscle in there. “
“When you shook Willie’s hand, you shook a hand – a man’s hand. It’s him, Rico Carty and Hank [Aaron]. Willie’s hand would devour your hand. It swallowed it up. “
Duane Kuiper, former Major League and Giants broadcaster
“The truth is, the guys who played in the ’60s all had big, strong hands – Mays, Aaron, [Willie] McCovey, [Frank] Robinson, [Orlando] Cepeda. They were all like dairy farmers milking cows by hand. You had to put your hand in these guys first or they’d crush them. My father always said to me, “You have to win the handshake.” But you couldn’t with Willie. “
Bench (who has his own huge hands)
“Willie’s hands are so thick. When we were playing golf, we both had the oversized handles. He came over and grabbed my clubs and said, ‘These feel good.'”
“Willie had huge forearms too. Look, I’m as tall as Willie Mays [both around 5-11 and 170-190 pounds]. And he hit 660 Homer and I had 160. “
Mays won 12 gold gloves. However, consider the following: they were not awarded until 1957; He could have won 16. He had tremendous speed, incredible range, and as good a jump on the ball as anyone else.
Former giant mug Steve Stone
“When he was 39 he was the best midfielder in the game. It’s really amazing how long he was able to keep his skills.”
Mays’ signature was the famous basket catcher: Instead of catching the ball in front of his face like every other outfielder, Mays often caught it casually on his hip.
“And he never missed one. He was so effortless. Back then you wanted to give him mustard. But that was just his natural ability and the grace he had in executing it. Almost every game it seems he has an amazing one Game made. ” You could have had two outfield players and put the other in the infield because Willie had everything covered. “
“”[Cardinals teammate] Curt Flood was the best I’ve ever seen on the wall. He was better than Willie on the wall. But Curt played deep. Willie didn’t play deep; he played flat. Willie never went up against the wall. Willie was the wall.”
Alou (who played left or right of Mays for six years)
“Sometimes I would watch the game like a fan was watching a game. A ball was hit and I said like a fan or a broadcaster, ‘Is he really going to catch this game?’ He had an amazing first step. He covered half the field on his own. “
“Chris Speier [who was a rookie with the Giants in 1971] Told me stories of Willie calling Pitches from midfield so the pitcher could throw a particular batsman. He and Hank Aaron had no scouting reports at the time. You could tell where a man would hit the ball by the position of his hands: if his hands were out of the zone, he would pull the ball. If his hands were firm, he would try to spin the ball onto the opposite field. These guys all studied rackets back then. They didn’t need a scout. “
Hall of Famer Tony Perez
“The best game I’ve ever seen was the ball Vada Pinson hit on the middle right field at candlestick. Willie ran down the ball and hit it.” [right fielder Bobby] Bonds and caught the ball. I don’t know how Willie caught it. “
“Leon [Wagner] could hit but you never knew where to catch the ball. So one day there will be a tall fly ball. I go after. I think Leon will catch it, but he just stands there [hands at his side]. So I jumped, I put my foot right into his belt buckle. I caught the ball and came down on it. I thought, “Oh no, I cut it.” I went to him and said, “Leon, pull up your shirt. Let me see where I cut you ‘There were no traces. I do not know how. I hit him with my spikes in his belt buckle. Nobody will believe this catch. “
Mays made perhaps the greatest defensive game – and the most famous – in the history of the World Series when he robbed the Indian Vic Wertz with a run catch in the deep midfield in 1954.
Hall of Famer Bob Feller
“That really wasn’t that great catch. As soon as it was hit, everyone on our bench knew they’d catch it … because he’s Willie Mays.”
“I have the last glove Willie Mays wore. It says the 1954 world champion. I bought it.” For how much? “Let’s just say if I sold it it would cost between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000. I bought it because no one has used a glove better than Willie Mays.”
Mays had an extremely strong and precise arm, which is vital for a midfielder. A throw on the plate must be comfortable enough to carry it over the hill.
“You already knew there were people you never ran into. You had respect for those people. Willie attacked the ball and anyone who’s ever played baseball. He was so good at judging the speed of the ball that he could.” it could.” shovel and throw. “
“Johnny Keane [the Cardinals manager from 1961 to 1964] told us in meetings, “Don’t run on Willie, he’ll kick you out. He’s baiting you. He wants you to think he can’t, and then he does. ‘Willie found out. Willie always found out everything. “
“You [people in baseball] said to me, “You can’t do a round robin.” That throws out a runner on the first base, the second base, the third base, and at home in the same game. I said, ‘I can do that. What are you talking about?’ So we’re at Dodger Stadium [Don] Drysdale hits the ball over the middle for a base goal. I watched him, he bowed his head and went on foot first. I thought, “I have it.” So I threw him out first. He cursed me with something violent. At the next inning, Maury Wills finished third, tried to score on a fly ball, and I knocked Maury out at home. At the next inning, Willie Davis tried to move from first to third. I threw him out in third place. Jim Lefebvre hits a ball in the gap. I had him by five feet at the second base [Giants second baseman] Tito [Fuentes] had it, but he didn’t hit the ball. Tito cried at the second base. He knew what I was trying to do. So I had to call. I go in and said to Tito: “Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.” He said, ‘Yes, it is. I know Round Robin was right there within your reach. ‘I said to him,’ Don’t worry, I’ll get it next time. ‘ But I never got closer … but I would have had it that day. “
Hall of Famer and former Mays teammate Orlando Cepeda
“Ave Maria! I’ve never seen anyone move from first to third on Willie’s arm. Felipe Alou was a great right fielder, but Willie once said to Felipe on a fly ball that Willie Kirkland struck in the center right: ‘Leave take it, let me take it. ‘ So Willie caught the ball at the 390-foot shield in right midfield and threw a low throw on the line in the air to base 3. Willie had the biggest limb I have ever seen, even better than that [Roberto] Clemente’s arm. “
“Before every game I do [or] Gaylord [Perry] We had a meeting about how we would line up the other team that evening. It was always a three-man meeting. Me, the catcher and Willie Mays. He always helped us how to line up all of the other team’s clubs. Willie knew exactly what to do with every batsman. “
It wasn’t just the stolen bases that separated Mays from other players, especially from other rulers. It was his innate sense of baserunning as he climbed to first through third place, batting from a second to a single, and pulling out one of the 140 three-packs he hit, including the top 20 in the league in 1957.
“He was one of the greatest. He would go from first to third base right center with a ball. He didn’t even have to look at the third base coach. He was his own trainer.”
“He was a terror on the bases.”
“I’ve always been told that Jackie Robinson is the only base runner better than Willie, but I’ve always wondered, ‘How can you be a better runner than Willie Mays?’ I’ve seen him stand at least ten times in a wild place that was less than three meters from the starting plate. “
Hall of Famer Willie McCovey (who usually met behind Mays on the line-up)
“Willie would start running to second place on the wild field or an overtaken ball and then go back to first because he knew they would join me with open first base. Oh, Willie saw it all.”
“Willie had great instincts on the bases and he was always aggressive. I was also an aggressive baserunner. I developed my baserunning skills by watching Willie Mays play.”
“Willie hit 50 homers so you can’t afford to let him run all the time and get hurt. You can say the 29th [all time in steals when he retired], but it could easily have made it into the top 10. And with a single one it would have been strange if he Not go to the third first. He had one of the best laps in second or third place that anyone could have. With his agility he made the most perfect turns. “
“After I retired, I took Willie to the ophthalmologist several times. He had early stage glaucoma. One day we were driving and I asked him about it [Jose] Canseco goes 40-40 [homers and stolen bases in one season]. I said to Willie, “What do you think of the guys who go 40-40? You did 30-30 a couple of times. ‘Willie said, “Oh, damn it, 40-40, that’s nothing. I could have done 50-50 anytime. I wanted to steal my bases when it came down to it, for the team. ‘”
“The greatest base runner I’ve ever seen. He made triple look easy. I beat Willie behind me in order. When he was on the base, I saw him run. I tried to mimic him to do that to do what he did the bases. But I couldn’t. Nobody could. “
“I thought I had a pretty good arm. I thought I was going to kick Willie out on third base one day. I got him out. He ran right into the ball’s path, it hit his shoulder. I got one. ” Mistake and he met. I swear to god he looked back, he saw where the throw was, he just ran right into the ball’s path. I said to the referee: ‘He can’t!’ “
That say hey kid
Willie Mays is a character. He is extremely self-confident, sometimes even arrogant, but also self-deprecating and playful, always ready to laugh. And his laugh, that wonderful laugh, that high-pitched voice that didn’t fit his physique or his mystique. He was so adored by team-mates and opponents alike. So much so that more than once when Dodger’s manager Walter Alston was leading the NL All-Star team, Mays made the starting grid.
“Walter said to me, ‘Willie, you know these guys better than I do, you do the punching order.’ So I put myself in the lead, Roberto [Clemente] Second and Hank [Aaron] third. I thought I would carry on, Roberto would take me over and Hank would take me in. “
“When I first met him I was 17 and was playing in the Instructional League. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was told, ‘Willie Mays wants to meet you.’ I said, “Oh, s —.” So I started talking to him. I missed the first two innings of the Instructional League game because I was talking to Willie Mays. But my manager didn’t care. He said, “He’s going to learn to talk to Willie Mays more than he goes to learn to play his damn game today. Let him talk for as long as he wants.” And what did Mays Griffey say that day that Griffey will never forget? “He said, ‘You will be good. You will be really good.’ … He’s such a caring person. He told me at the age of 17 to call him if I needed anything. He didn’t have to do that. But I would let my dad call first. I couldn’t just call Willie Mays on. “
“”[First baseman] Bill White played for the Cardinals. Him and Gibby [Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson] went to San Francisco in the off-season. Bill was invited to Willie’s home for dinner and asked Gibby if he would like to go. Bob said, “I’d love to go, I’ve never met Willie Mays.” You ring the doorbell. Willie comes to the door. Gibby always wore glasses in the off-season, but he didn’t wear them when he opened his eyes. So Willie opens the door, says hello to Bill, then says, “Who’s that?” Bill said, “Willie, this is Bob Gibson.” Willie didn’t say hello to him, all he said was, ‘You’re wearing glasses !? And you don’t wear it when you serve? Are you crazy? You are going to hurt someone! ‘”
Mays wasn’t just good for the stars.
“The first time I met Willie was the day I was first called up to the major leagues on July 10, 1960. Willie was so good to me, but he was so good to everyone. He took me to dinner, but he took everyone out to dinner. He used to take teammates to a clothing store. And we all came home with suits, shirts, coats, pants and shoes. Willie was a great teammate. “
“He was great for all of us young people, men of all colors. Willie gave me my first McGregor glove back when gloves were made out of kangaroos. It’s now illegal.”
“The special moment for me was the 1968 All-Star Game at the Astrodome. I’m sitting at my locker directly across from Willie. And I’m not moving. I’m 20 years old. I don’t want to [accidentally spike] someone; I don’t want to pretend I belong there. Willie went from his locker to mine and said, “You should have been the starter.” That’s it. That was all I needed The validation. The confirmation I got from Willie. It was an honor to be with him. The joy it brought. He was the guy you emulated in every way. He was everything baseball was supposed to be … that say hey kid, man. “
“I passed by once [the visiting clubhouse manager’s office at AT&T Park] and Willie was sitting there with Willie McCovey. I was just trying to slip past, and Willie [Mays] came out and said, ‘Wait, wait. Come in here. You have enough home runs to be in this room. ‘That made me feel important. “
“My first all-star game was in 1965 and my locker was between Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. And I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here when I’m between these guys?’ Willie did everything to make me feel part of the team. I’ve never forgotten that. “
Mays is a great storyteller.
Mays (when he first faced Satchel Paige in 1949)
“Satch would reach out to anyone who would pay him. I hit him a double off the wall. The guy behind me, Jimmy Zapp, hit a home run. Later in the game, Satch said to his third baseman, ‘Don’t do it know me when that little boy comes back. ‘I thought he was talking about someone else. On the third I heard the third baseman say, “There he is.” I didn’t know who they were talking about. The catcher said, “You are talking about You. “I said,” No way. “So Satch went halfway to the plate and said,” Little boy, “and I said,” Yes, sir. “Satch was a lot older than me. Satch said,” Little one Boy, I’m not going to cheat you, I’ll go three fastballs, then you’ll sit down. “I said, there is no way he could throw the same field three times and I won’t hit it. He tossed me the three damn fastballs. Me wasn’t close to hitting it. He said, “Little boy, you can sit down now. ‘”
“I wrote in my book that Willie had the thickest fingers I have ever seen and that he polished his fingernails every day. Every day. He came up to me and said in that high-pitched voice, ‘I heard that They said I polished my nails every day. You’re right, I do! ‘”
“I think it was during spring training [with the Reds]I was invited to the governor’s house for dinner [in Florida]. Jeb Bush was the governor. I wanted to go down there, but my manager [Bob Boone] said to me, “Ah, I don’t think I can let you go.” I said to him, “But Willie Mays invited me.” [Boone] immediately said, “Oh OK, go ahead.” That is how important Willie Mays is. “
“The first time I heard about Willie Mays was Vic Wertz’s catch, 1954, I was 8. We had a black and white TV. You had to put a quarter in the TV to see it for an hour. That’s how you are I was a Willie Mays fan growing up, but you had to be a Dodger fan to be black because of Jackie [Robinson] and Roy [Campanella] and Newk [Don Newcomb] and Junior Gilliam. But when Willie came into town, I asked my father to take me to the game. After the game, my father took me to the players’ bus. I crawled on the floor, I crawled through people’s legs, and I saw Willie get on the bus. It was a wonderful experience for me. “
Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer
“The first time I met him was at a golf event in January 1969. His partner in the tournament was Joe Namath, who slept on the day of the tournament and didn’t show up at the first tee. So Willie didn’t.” Willie and I went to the Long Drive Contest together. Here I am, this skinny jug, and this is Willie Mays, so strong. So I won the Long Drive Contest. Willie said to me in that high-pitched voice, “There’s no way you can overtake me. Your ball hit the sprinkler head.” I said, “Well all I know is my 310 drive and your only 290 drive went.” Willie just laughed. “
“One day at Candlestick, Jim Maloney promoted us [the Reds]. He threw really hard. Very hard. He also enjoyed playing around with players on the field for fun. So Willie got into the box and Maloney went to his mouth like throwing a spitball. Instead, he threw a fastball right in the middle. Willie took it. In the end he went for a walk. When he first came I said to him, “You know, Maloney is crazy.” And Willie laughed and said, “I know. He’s crazy. He pretends to throw a spit ball. He doesn’t need it. He’s going to kill someone with it. But I won’t be because I won’t be in there! ‘”
“A friend of mine, Dave, lives in Hawaii. He’s from the Bay Area, he’s a big Giants fan, a big Willie fan. And his birthday is the same day as Willie – May 6th. So before two Or three years ago I said, “I’ll let you know when I’ll be in San Francisco and we’ll watch a game together.” Unknown to Dave, I arranged for Willie to be in the stadium. I pulled Willie off the stands. He spoke to Dave for an hour. Willie couldn’t do enough for him. He signed something. He took pictures with him. Willie says to me, “What else do you need?” So Willie called Mike Murphy, the Giants clubhouse guy, and said, “Murph, get me a shirt.” Willie took the shirt off his back, signed it, and gave it to Dave. He literally gave him the shirt off his back. Dave obviously never stopped talking about it. He tries me buying breakfast, lunch and dinner every time I see him. “
“The first batsman I met in my first All-Star game  was Willie Mays … the guy I saw growing up in New York and California. I’m serious, Willie Mays. And I hit him on three high fastballs. I saw him in the Hall of Fame years later and he said to me, “I was told you were wild. I was told you were some kind of headhunter. ‘I wasn’t wild or a headhunter, but the first time I met Willie was such a thrill. “
“That was the thing with Willie. No matter where he played, he always played with passion, whether it was for the Giants or a barnstorming game or spring training or stickball on the streets of New York with kids. His focus was like nobody I did ever seen. And he loved me for some reason. He called me Chico because he had a hard time saying Felipe. Sometimes he called me Phillip. But even today, when we’re close, he hears my voice from someone else Space, he recognizes me and says: ‘Hey, it’s Chico!’ “
“Willie filled in and made the color comment before Mike a few years ago [Krukow, Kuiper’s current broadcast partner on Giants games] started making games. So I’m the play-by-play guy. It’s Easter Sunday. Robby Thompson strikes on a check swing, with the bond run in third place, to end the game. On Easter Sunday, Willie says in the air, “Jesus Christ!” I looked at him. I have to talk because I’m the play-by-play guy and all I could say was, ‘We’ll be right back with the Reverend Willie Mays after that.’ “
“The first time we played him, when he first came on the plate, he said, ‘Hey, how are you boy?’ Er liebt es, die Geschichte darüber zu erzählen, wie er auf der zweiten Basis war, und er sagt: „Mann, sie [the Reds] Ich hoffe, wir bekommen einen Treffer, weil ich seinen Arsch in den Unterstand stoßen werde. ‘ Dann sagte er: ‘Wir haben einen Basistreffer, ich komme vorbei und … bist du in einen Baum gerutscht? Ich ging rückwärts. Ich bin rückwärts gegangen. ‘ Ich kann nicht sagen, was er danach gesagt hat, aber es war wie: ‘Nimm das von mir, du hast mir mein blankes Bein gebrochen.’ “
“Das erste Mal, dass ich Willie Mays traf, war mein Anfängerjahr im Frühlingstraining, als ich 1969 für die A spielte. Willie kam zur Bank des A und sagte: ‘Wo ist Reggie Jackson? Wer ist dieses Kind, Reggie Jackson? Ich möchte Reggie Jackson sehen. ‘ Ich traf ihn. Das war eine große Sache für mich, für ihn, zu unserem Unterstand zu kommen und nach mir zu fragen. Ich musste ihm die Hand schütteln. Also sagten Catfish Hunter und Sal Bando zu mir: »Reggie, mach deinen Willie. Mach deinen Willie. ‘ Ich könnte wie er rennen. Ich könnte den Taubengang machen, den er gemacht hat. Er hat gelacht. Willie hatte seinen Handschuh unter den Arm gesteckt. Ich sagte: “Was ist das für ein Ding an deinem Handschuh? Buck?” Er sagte: “Das ist mein Spitzname.” Ich sagte: “Das ist wirklich cool.” Danach Catfish und Bando und [Rollie] Finger und [Joe] Rudi hat mich seitdem immer Buck genannt. “
“”[As the manager of the Rangers]Ich musste Willie bei einem Oldtimerspiel sagen, dass Joe [DiMaggio] würde nicht auf dem Feld herauskommen, wenn er nicht zuletzt herauskam und als der größte lebende Spieler vorgestellt wurde. Also ließ Bobby Bragan mich Willie erzählen, Mickey [Mantle] und der Herzog [Snider]Einer nach dem anderen, dass Joe zuletzt herauskommen musste. Willie sagte mit dieser hohen Stimme: »Nun, Joe glaubt tatsächlich, er sei der größte lebende Spieler. Also sollten wir ihn vielleicht lassen. ‘ Ich sagte zu Willie: ‘Ich bin so glücklich, dass du das gesagt hast.’ “
“Einmal in der Hall of Fame gingen wir nach der Einführungszeremonie alle zum Vorspeisen ins Hotel zurück. An unserem Tisch saß Yogi [Berra], Whitey [Ford], Herzog [Snider], Tommy Lasorda, Willie Mays und ich. Jetzt das ist ein Tisch. Also fragt Lasorda Yogi, was er auf seinen Grabstein legen möchte. Yogi sagte: “Oh, das ist einfach: Es ist vorbei.” Weißt du, es ist nie vorbei, bis es vorbei ist. Willie gackerte. Willie hat ein großes Lachen. “
“In 2000 [during the playoffs]Willie hielt Gericht im Clubhaus der Giants. Ich fragte Murph [Mike Murphy, the Giants’ home clubhouse manager] wenn er Willie herüberbringen könnte, um mit meinen Jungs zu reden. Also kommt Willie vorbei und spricht mit meinen Spielern. Unglaublich, einige von ihnen wussten nicht, wer er war. Das war 2000! Das war schlimmer als schändlich. “
“Sie wussten nicht, wer Willie Mays ist? Wissen sie, wer Gott ist?”
“Ich habe ein von Willie signiertes Trikot. Darin steht: ‘Von einem Kind zum anderen. Das Say Hey Kid.’ Das ist in meiner Männerhöhle zu Hause gut sichtbar. Die Leute kommen herein und schauen es sich an und sagen: “Ist das er?” Ich sagte: ‘Ja, das ist Willie Mays.’ “