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Jimmy Palermo, during a historic 7-day span in May, 1939, saw the meteoric rise of Williams and tragic decline of Gehrig.


An exclusive WIWAG ongoing feature.

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of the '50s

Qualify as Grade A10.

First sports bar featured 12-inch Farnsworth TV.


Two unsuspecting vintage baseball fans rediscover a "National Treasure."
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WILLIE wielded this Louisville Slugger (model F4) block stamped with "W MAYS" on the barrel. The bat of Cardinal rookie phenom, Wally Moon, was also brought over from Busch Stadium to the Original Sports Bar in April of 1954.

WILLIE MAYS, thought by many to be the greatest all-around player ever, used this bat in a series with the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in June of 1954. After rain washed out the first game, the Giants unleashed an offensive barrage against the Redbirds in the second game in which Mays had three hits, two of which were round-trippers. That day, the "Say Hey Kid" had five RBIs as New York won 13-8.


WILLIE MAYS, a perennial all-star, won the first of two MVP awards in 1954. His .345 average lead the Major Leagues and his 41 circuit-clouts was third only to Kluszewski's 49 and Hodges' 42.



ALL-STAR: 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964
1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973.



Mays was the Major League's original 'five-tool player'

The "Say Hey Kid" swiped more than 300 bases, hit 660 home runs and was the best defensive center fielder of his era


WILLIE MAYS was, to a generation of fans, the greatest ballplayer they had ever seen. He combined power and speed in ways unseen on the diamond before his time. 

Willie Mays is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player to ever walk on the field - and his stats are undeniable. He began his Major League baseball career on May 25, 1951, with the New York Giants. The 20 year-old played for 22 seasons for the Giants and Mets - and ended his big league playing career in 1973.  In the field, and at bat, Mays was a spectacular athlete.
No one matched him in what Leo Durocher called "the five things you look for in a player." Ty Cobb believed that Mays had "restored the art of base running to the game."  Mays was the original "five-tool player," possessing the ability to hit, hit for power, run, throw, and field. He retired with 660 home runs, but he was far more than just a slugger. He swiped more than 300 bases and was the best defensive center fielder of his era - and perhaps the best ever.
When Mays joined the New York Giants in 1951, black players were still a rarity in the Major Leagues. Before Mays, the typical baseball scout's report on a talented black player would mention the player's color first, his ability second. When scouts described the young Willie, they mentioned his remarkable skills first.

MAYS PLAYED with the Birmingham Black Barons while still in high school from 1947 - '49. The New York Giants signed him in 1950.

Mays, already a three year veteran of the Negro League, signed with the Giants for $6,000 after graduating from high school. After tearing up Class B pitching with Trenton (.353 in 81 games in 1950) and Class AAA pitching with Minneapolis (.477 in 35 games in 1951), the Giants summoned the prodigy. During his 1951 National League season Mays was selected Rookie of the Year. During that year, he hit 20 home runs and had 68 RBI's.
Mays served in the U.S. Army for two years — missing the 1952 and 1953 seasons. If he had not missed two season in his prime, who knows how many home runs he may have hit in his career.

Mays returned in 1954 at the age of 23 and led the major leagues with a .345 batting average led the league with 41 homers, scored 119 times with 110 RBI's, was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player and led the Giants to another pennant. 

In 1955, Mays became just the seventh player in history to hit 50 homers, with his 51 dingers winning him the first of four home-run titles.

AFTER SERVING in the U.S. Army for two years, Mays returned in 1954 at the age of 23 and led the major leagues with a .345 batting average; led the league with 41 homers; scored 119 times with 110 RBI's; was voted the National League's MVP; and led the Giants to the pennant. 

The Say Hey Kid won two MVPs, 11 years apart, in 1954 and 1965. Along with his 660 home runs (third most in history if you don't count Bonds' asterisk), he is one of only four players to twice hit more than 50 homers (that includes the "juiced-up" McGwire and Sosa) in a National League season and belted four homers in a game. He is a member of the elite 3,000-hit club (3,283, No. 10 all-time) and has a lifetime average of .302. His 2,062 runs rank fifth and his 1,903 RBI eighth.

Mays was well known for his high, boyish voice; his huge wide-palmed hands, branching out at the wrists like mini baseball gloves; the oversize cap that flew off his head as he rounded the bases or roamed the outfield; and his trademark basket catch. One of the most memorable plays in baseball history was "The Catch": Mays' unbelievable back-to-the-plate catch of Vic Wertz's 450-foot blast that saved the first game of the World Series and spurred the Giants to a stunning sweep of the favored Cleveland Indians, their first series win since 1933.
Although fans argue to this day about which was the greatest of his many spectacular catches, Mays himself insists that wasn't his best catch: "The catch off Bobby Morgan in Brooklyn was the best catch I ever made," Mays said, referring to a diving, backhanded grab of the Brooklyn Dodger's line drive in September 1951 at Ebbetts Field. 
When the Gold Glove came into existence in 1957, Mays earned one each of the first 12 years. He's the only outfielder with more than 7,000 career putouts (7,095). A half-dozen or so of his catches are legendary, with the Wertz catch being the most famous.

AS A YOUNG PLAYER, Mays was fun-loving and gregarious, earning the nickname "Say Hey" for his catch-phrase at the ballpark. Above, he plays stickball with children in the streets of Harlem.

In the 1950s and '60s, fans couldn't get enough of Willie. In the first flush of his fame and popularity, he would get up early to play stickball in the street with the worshipful children who gathered in front of his Harlem boarding house.
Being one of the first black Major League ballplayers, he was the center fielder in the first all black outfield of Monte Irvin, Mays and Hank Thompson in the 1951 World Series. A shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, he was inducted in 1979 with 95 percent of the vote, the first year he was eligible.

WILLIE MAYS: Did you know...

...Mays was the on-deck batter when Bobby Thomson hit his famous pennant-winning home run, "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," on October 3, 1951.

...Mays, along with Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson made up the first all black outfield when they covered the garden for the Giants in a 1951 World Series Game against the Yankees.
...Mays is one of the few players to hit four homers in a game, steal over 20 bases in the same season six straight years, and combine over 3,000 hits with more than 600 homers.

...Mays was a National League all-star every season from 1951 through 1973.

MAYS ADORNED many magazine covers during his career. Above, a 1959 Sports Illustrated cover captures the "Say Hey Kid's" enthusiasm for the game. Below, cover-boy Mays' powerful swing is captured on another SI issue.

...Willie was signed by the New York Giants before the 1950 season as an amateur free agent.
...Mays replaced Bobby Thomson in center field in 1951. Thomson moved to third base and Whitey Lockman to first. The "Say-Hey Kid" was a Giant fixture in center for the next 21 years.

...Mays was traded by the San Francisco Giants in May 1972 to the New York Mets for Charlie Williams and $50,000 cash.

...Mays was loved by his teammates, as he often helped younger players become acclimated to the big leagues.
...Mays played in a record tying 24 all-star games and participated in four World Series. His catch of a Vic Wertz drive in the 1954 Series remains one of baseball's most memorable moments.

...Mays was born May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Alabama.

WILLIE's many accomplishments were chronicled on countless magazine covers during his 22-year Major League career in New York and San Francisco.


WILLIE MAYS' incredible career statistics include 3,283 hits and 660 home runs, and the Giants superstar earned National League Rookie of the Year honors in 1951 - along with two MVP awards in 1954 and 1965.

TREMENDOUS TRIO: Willie compares bats with Duke Snider and Stan Musial before an all-star game during the mid '50s.



WILLIE MAYS, the "Say Hey Kid," played with enthusiasm and exuberance while excelling in all phases of the game — hitting for average and power, fielding, throwing and base-running.

MAYS, a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, was inducted in 1979 with 95 percent of the vote -  the first year he was eligible.