Willie Mays


Willie Mays : biography

May 6, 1931 –

Mays was also mentioned numerous times in Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. One of the more famous of these strips was originally published on February 9, 1966. In it, Charlie Brown is competing in a class spelling bee and he is asked to spell the word, "Maze". He erroneously spells it, M-A-Y-S and screams out his dismay when he is eliminated.http://schulzmuseum.org/willie-mays-and-a-charlie-brown-christmas/

1956 Willie Mays Major League Negro-American All-Stars Tour

In 1956, Mays got many of Major League Baseball’s biggest black stars to go on a tour around the country after the season had ended to play exhibition games. While much of the tour was undocumented, one venue was Andrews Field,http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/park.cgi?id=AR010 located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on October 16. Among the players who played in that game were Mays, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Elston Howard, Monte Irvin, Gene Baker, Charlie Johnson, Sam Jones, Hank Thompson and Joe Black.

Personal life

Mays married Margherite Wendell Chapman (1926–2010) in 1956, and they adopted their son Michael, who was born in 1959.Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend, by James Hirsch, 2010, Scribner, New York, p. 6. The couple divorced in 1962 or 1963, varying by source. Mays married Mae Louise Allen in November 1971. Allen died on April 19, 2013, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

Post-playing days

After Mays stopped playing baseball, he remained an active personality. Just as he had during his playing days, Mays continued to appear on various TV shows, in films and in other forms of non-sports-related media. He remained in the New York Mets organization as their hitting instructor until the end of the 1979 season. It was there where he taught future Mets’ star Lee Mazzilli his famous basket catch.http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080908&content_id=3438789&vkey=news_nym&fext=.jsp&c_id=nym

On January 23, 1979, Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He garnered 409 of the 432 ballots cast (roughly 95 percent);http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/history/hof_voting/year/1979.htm referring to the other 23 voters, acerbic New York Daily News columnist Dick Young wrote, "If Jesus Christ were to show up with his old baseball glove, some guys wouldn’t vote for him. He dropped the cross three times, didn’t he?"

Mays took up golf a few years after his promotion to the major leagues and quickly became an accomplished player, playing to a handicap of about four. After he retired, he played golf frequently in the San Francisco area.Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend, by James Hirsch, 2010.

Shortly after his Hall of Fame election, Mays took a job at the Park Place Casino (now Bally’s Atlantic City) in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While there, he served as a Special Assistant to the Casino’s President and as a greeter. Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was also a greeter during that time. When Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn heard of this, he suspended both men from involvement in organized baseball for violating the league’s rules on gambling. Peter Ueberroth, Kuhn’s successor, lifted the suspension in 1985.

Since 1986, Willie Mays has served as Special Assistant to the President of the San Francisco Giants. Mays’ number 24 is retired by the San Francisco Giants. AT&T Park, the Giants stadium, is located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. In front of the main entrance to the stadium is a larger-than-life statue of Mays. He also serves on the advisory board of the Baseball Assistance Team, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping former Major League, Minor League, and Negro league players through financial and medical difficulties.

On February 10, 2010, Mays appeared on The Daily Show, discussing his career and a new biography, Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend, by James S. Hirsch.

A frequent traveler, Mays is one of 66 holders of American Airlines’ lifetime passes.


Early life

Mays was born in Westfield, Alabama, just outside of Bessemer, Alabama. His father, who was named after president William Howard Taft, was a talented baseball player with the Negro team for the local iron plant. His mother, Annie Satterwhite, was a gifted basketball and track star in high school.Hirsch, p. 12 His parents never married each other. As a baby, Mays was cared for by his mother’s younger sisters Sarah and Ernestine. Sarah became the primary female role model in Mays’ life.Hirsch, p. 13 His father exposed him to baseball at an early age, and by the age of five he was playing catch with his father.Hirsch, p. 14 At age 10, Mays was allowed to sit on the bench of his father’s League games.Hirsch, p. 15

Mays played multiple sports at Fairfield Industrial High School, averaging a then-record 17 points a game in basketball and more than 40 yards a punt in football, while also playing quarterback.http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/willie_mays.html Mays graduated from Fairfield in 1950.http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Willie_Mays.aspx