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Willie Mays

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Willie Mays was born in 1931, the same year both of my parents were born. My Mom is still alive and will turn 93 in September. My Dad was born in May—twelve days after Willie. He died in 1998. I was born in November of 1959. My first baseball game is too hazy, but it would have been at Candlestick Park in 1967 or 1968. I remember the 1969 season—Bobby Bonds was a phenom and Willie McCovey won the NL MVP. Dad took us the the first playoff game in 1971 against the Pirates. Tito Fuentes, my favorite player, hit a home run.

Willie Mays was of course a central figure on all of those Giants teams. He was unfortunately gone by 1972 and finished his final days with the Mets. Willie was 40 in 1971, his last productive season, and the Giants wouldn’t make it back to the post-season again until 1987.

I didn’t get to see the prime superstar seasons that Willie dazzled baseball with for over a decade. I saw an aging baseball legend. Even then, when I was a kid, people generally agreed that Willie was the best player ever. But as a boy I was much more excited about other guys on the team. I suppose I took Mays for granted. And then he was gone for a long time and the team was mostly pretty bad. They finally re-united with him in 1986 and it’s been a happy relationship ever since.

Clearly Willie Mays is one of the greatest ballplayers of all time. As Giants fans we got to enjoy him more than everyone else, and that’s pretty cool.

Rest in peace, Willie.



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