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Willie Is 90!

May 6, 2021

The great, great baseball player, Willie Mays turns 90 years old today.

Certainly Willie is in any discussion as to the greatest player and is pretty clearly the best living player.

The years of 100 rbis and 100 runs scored, the catch, throw, walk and stolen base in the all important NY Giants (I hope to be a part of the fine organization New York Giants Preservation Society singing happy birthday to Willie later today) game 1 win in the ’54 World Series vs the 111 wins Cleveland Indians.

New York (Giants) went on to sweep the favored Indians extending Cleveland’s title drought to 6 years on its way to the current 73 and counting.

It was Willie’s only team title, (1-3) in World Series, sans a home run–one reason Babe Ruth and perhaps others rate ahead of him, however, just about any “eye test,” i.e. watching him hit, run, field, throw and think baseball puts Willie in discussion with any other than Ruth, who remember was also a great pitcher.

Two memories, among many of Willie, one relatively the other totally personal and thus completely obscure.

Galen Cisco starts the first game of a doubleheader, on May 5, 1963 (the day before Willie turned 32, remember the #) and walks Harvey Kuenn (playing third base, what a lineup SF had–as Kuenn, Felipe Alou and Hall of Fame players McCovey, Mays and Cepeda all were at least excellent, if not better in the hitting department) and then Alou before getting “Willie Mc” to pop out to “Choo Choo” Coleman in foul ground.

The great broadcaster Lindsey Nelson notes a “mixed” reception for Mays (he also noted 50, 000 plus turned out 2 days earlier to honor him) and then on a (1-1) pitch, Nelson as brilliant as Michael Kay is bad (“bad” was said on “Follow The Money” as I typed so maybe God/force agrees, yet Kay has most of it, even if his “guy,” fellow bad human being, Guiliani goes down and I have nada) calls Willie’s 373rd career home run, into the Polo Ground’s upper deck.

Last, it was either Stan Gardner or Gerry (sp?) Weinberg, each of whom died far too young within a year (late 1980 and mid 1981) who connected a Spalding rubber ball with the point of the “32” “stoop” of the garden apartment in which I lived in better days, so many years ago.

The ball really GOES, when that happens, however, I raced back, facing the other way, toward the street and grabbed the ball.

Those guys Gerry (sp?) and Stan were adults and we were kids,  they always won. They were good to us in any case, and after my catch, each remarked to my dad, sitting and watching, that it evoked memories of Willie in #1/’54 World Series.

It was a great moment! Sadly, repeats of such, have been few and far between.

Happy 90th birthday to the great Willie Mays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only Willie Mays, who is prominently displayed, but note the now unfortunately all gone, Roberto Clemente, Henry Aaron and Mickey Mantle, all such great players, above.

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