Westfield, Alabama saw the birth of baseball legend Willie Mays. Mays had a twenty-two-year-long run in professional league baseball where he made his name. Towards the end of his career, it was said in jest that the All Star Game was invented just for Willie Mays. This was because he had a staggering total of 24 All Star titles to his name. Mays among an elite selection of five-tool players, all of whom have been inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Willie Mays was popularly known as the 'Say Hey Kid'. The origin of this nickname is still not fully known, but there are many theories behind it. One theory says that Mays got the name during the onset of his MLB career, when he was still unfamiliar with the names of players around him. He was said to have an attitude where if he were to see another player, he would simply say 'hey'. Once he got on the field and started smashing records and hitting home run after home run, people would remark about how the 'Say Hey Kid' was on a streak.
A Giant in his time
After his spell in the Negro League, he earned a reputation where he was an extremely dependable center fielder and was a great batter as well. His MLB debut was for the New York Giants, where he was seen with the number 24 adorning his jersey for the first time. His career started here in the year 1951. He played for the New York Giants from 1951 to 1952, and then for the San Francisco Giants from 1954 to 1972. After his brilliant show with the Giants he went on to join the New York Mets for two seasons.
During the years 1952 and 1953, Willie Mays served in the U.S military, and continued with his career after the period of his service. Through his career, Mays had a batting average of .302, and had batted in close to 2000 runs. His 660 home runs ensured his place in the Hall of Fame, putting him at third place when he retired.
Titles and tributes to the baseball legend
As of now, Mays is at fourth place regarding the number of home runs hit during his professional career. Willie Mays had a whopping 3,283 hits by the time his career was over. Not only did he win 24 All Star titles, Mays also won a dozen Gold Glove Awards for his excellent skills at fielding. It was in fact his fielding which made him a notable force during his early days.
Once his batting average started rising people started to find that Willie Mays was in fact quite a talented young player. Today, he spends his time retired, and has appeared in a number of television shows and game shows. Willie Mays is respected very much in the baseball world; so much so, that the Giants have renounced the number 24 as tribute to the great star.