Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Familiar Faces / Strange Places: Willie Mays / Mets

I just finished reading the James Hirsch book about Willie Mays. If you like baseball biographies, I would highly recommend it.

One of the more interesting chapters of the book was the circumstances around his late career trade to the Mets and his return to New York.

It is quite ironic how it all played out: Even though he was the highest paid player in the league, Mays was always in financial trouble. At the time, the Giants franchise was losing money and Giants owner Horace Stoneham could not guarantee the expensive and aging Mays any income after he retired. Mets Manager Yogi Berra's had no interest in having Willie on the team and it was the sentimental Mets owner that forced him onto Yogi's roster and offered Mays a position as a coach when he retired.

This story is even more ironic given the current financial struggles of the present day New York Mets franchise and the apparent stable financial foundation of the current San Francisco Giants organization.

On May 14, 1972, in his Mets debut, Mays put New York ahead to stay with a fifth-inning home run against the Giants. Mays played a season and a half in a Mets uniform as the oldest position player in the league before retiring following the 1973 World Series.

One of many great and random facts about Willie Mays: He is the only Major League player in history to have hit a home run in every inning from the 1st through the 16th.


Post a Comment