Willie Mays

Willie Howard Mays, Jr.
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1979
Primary team: San Francisco Giants
Primary position: Center Fielder

“If somebody came up and hit .450, stole 100 bases and performed a miracle in the field every day I’d still look you in the eye and say Willie was better. He could do the five things you have to do to be a superstar: hit, hit with power, run, throw, and field. And he had that other magic ingredient that turns a superstar into a super superstar. He lit up the room. He was a joy to be around,” said Hall of Famer Leo Durocher of Willie Mays.

At age 16, Mays joined the Birmingham Barons of the Negro American League. The New York Giants purchased his contract in 1950, and he was in center field at the Polo Grounds soon thereafter. Mays started off slowly, but got untracked and won the NL Rookie of the Year award, helping the Giants erase a 13-game deficit to tie the Dodgers at the end of the 1951 regular season.

He spent most of 1952 and all of 1953 in the Army, but in 1954, Mays showed his all-around ability, leading the league with a .345 batting average and 13 triples, while blasting 41 homers and ringing up 110 runs batted in. The Giants again won the pennant, and in the World Series, faced the Cleveland Indians, winners of an AL-record 111 games. With Game 1 tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth, runners on first and second, and no outs, Vic Wertz hit a towering drive that would have been a home run in most parks. Mays, playing shallow, took off and ran with his back to the ball, caught it over the shoulder an estimated 460 feet from the plate, turned, and fired. Larry Doby, who had to turn back and tag up at second base, was forced to stop at third. The Giants went on to win the game and sweep the Series. “The Catch” is considered by many to be the greatest defensive play ever.

Mays played 21 seasons with the Giants, and finished up with the Mets in 1972 and 1973. He hit over .300 10 times, en route to a career .302 mark. He was a two-time NL MVP (1954 and 1965), and a 20-time All-Star. He led the league in home runs four times, finishing with 660 — then the second most ever.

"They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays. "
Ted Williams

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1979
Primary Team: San Francisco Giants
Position Played: Center Fielder
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Westfield, Alabama
Birth year: 1931
Played for:
Birmingham Black Barons (1948-1950)
New York Giants (1951-1957)
San Francisco Giants (1958-1972)
New York Mets (1972-1973)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG