Overtime: Say Hey, Willie, we’re going to miss you!

:10—Willie Mays, the greatest baseball player of all-time in my humble opinion, passed away on Tuesday, June 18, at 93. Known for so many things in the field and at the batter’s box, Willie’s grace and seemingly effortless playing ability are what we remember most. We will lead with this—There have been 20,661 men that have played major league baseball since 1876. Willie Mays has 300+ home runs, 300+ stolen bases, 3,000+ hits and a batting average over .300 (.301 to be exact.) He is the only player to accomplish this in MLB history. The only one.

:09—Willie’s highlights are too many to fit into the entirety of this newspaper, so let’s just spotlight a few of the staggering statistics and plays he accomplished throughout his amazing career. Let’s start at the beginning: In 1951, at the tender age of 20, Willie won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. In 1952 Willie played in only 34 games and did not play in 1953 due to military duty in the Army.

:08—With his Army duty behind him, Willie came back in 1954 with a vengeance, winning the MVP Award and leading his New York Giants to the World Series where they swept the Cleveland Indians in four straight games. In Game 1 in the top of the 8th inning, Cleveland’s first baseman Vic Wertz came to the plate and hit a prodigious blast to deep center field in the old Polo Grounds Stadium, 450 feet. Willie, patrolling center field, sprinted to deep center and with his back to the infield, at full sprint, made an over-the-shoulder catch of Wertz’s massive drive and had the incredible wherewithal to spin after the catch and fire the ball back to second base and prevent any runners to tag up and score. This is considered by most experts to be the single greatest defensive play in the history of the game and who am I to dispute this opinion?

:07—As mentioned earlier, Willie did his duty and served two years in the United States Army and is to be commended for his patriotism and his service. Willie ended his career with 660 home runs, 2,068 runs scored, 1,909 RBI and 3,293 hits. If he had played both seasons we can do the math and conservatively estimate that Willie would have broken Babe Ruth’s home run record instead of Hank Aaron and ended up with between 733 and 764 home runs which would place him No. 1 instead of Barry Bonds, about 2,300 runs scored which, again, would be the all-time record, 2,170 RBI, which would be fourth all-time, another 350 hits to pad his total to 3,643 hits, fourth all-time ahead of Stan Musial, and add about 80 more stolen bases to the 339 total and you’ve got 419 stolen bases if the math is correct. Plainly he would be heralded as baseball’s all-time best player universally.

:06—Along with our own beloved Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente, Willie was a 12-time winner of the Gold Glove for outstanding defense, tied for the most ever by an outfielder. Willie Mays is pretty much unanimously regarded as the greatest fielding center fielder in MLB history and I don’t see anyone realistically in the discussion as his equal. He was just that damn good.

:05—Hall of Fame pitchers Willie Mays batted against in his career—Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale, Jim Bunning, Don Sutton, Fergie Jenkins, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Early Wynn and I may have missed out on one or two others. That list is staggering.

:04—With Willie passing, the title of greatest living Hall of Famer is up for debate. Many pundits have put Ken Griffey Jr. at the top of the list, along with Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux and Mike Schmidt. Since we’re talking Hall of Fame, that leaves off Barry Bonds, so I’m gonna throw a name at you who is vastly underrated at this point —Boston Red Sox all-time great Carl Yastrzemski. And yeah, I had to look up how to spell that last name. Carl hit in the pitching era of the late 1960s when the mound was raised and pitchers were at a greater advantage than ever before in MLB history. Yet Carl won the Triple Crown and MVP in 1967, amassed 3,419 hits, 442 home runs and 1,845 RBI and the man is virtually forgotten. I’m just saying, let’s show some love to this all-timer, he was tremendous.

:03—A thrilling Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, June 24. Florida had a 3 games to none lead and Edmonton came all the way back to force a Game 7. I thought Edmonton was going to pull it off, but as it turned out, Florida won, 2-1, to secure their first Stanley Cup in their 31-year history and leaves Canada without a Stanley Cup winner since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

:02—Paul Skenes is now in the discussion for the NL Cy Young Award and is the absolute front-runner for Rookie of the Year. Sunday, June 23, he pitched 7 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, struck out 8, allowed 1 run and his final pitch was a 102 mph fastball that struck out Alex Jackson swinging. Skenes’ ERA is now 2.14, the second-lowest in all of baseball and he has, in 8 games started, never left the game with the Pirates behind on the scoreboard. That is a phenomenal statistic. I hope the Pirates don’t waste this trio of pitchers, Mitch Keller and Jared Jones also, because we will most likely never ever see a pitching staff like this in Pittsburgh ever again. The Pirates management is to be congratulated on this staff but we need hitting, Bryan Reynolds can’t do it alone.

:01—The last few weeks we have seen the passing of Lakers HOF great Jerry West, Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics HOF great Bill Walton and now New York/San Francisco Giants and, briefly NY Mets HOF great Willie Mays. It is to be said that all three were legendary players deserving of their HOF inductions but let it also be said that these three all-time great athletes conducted themselves outside the sports arena as truly great men to be emulated and revered for how they carried themselves each and every day with kindness, intelligence and decency. They will truly be missed.

:00—Scottie Scheffler won the PGA Travelers Championship Sunday, June 23, beating Tom Kim on the first hole of sudden death to win for the sixth time this year. With three months to go till the season winds down, Scheffler has already won $27,696,858 dollars this year. Read it again. Wow. Just Wow.




About Post Author


From the Web

Skip to content