MLB icon Willie Mays, affectionately known as the “Say Hey Kid,” passed away at the age of 93, the San Francisco Giants announced on Tuesday. Mays, a two-time MVP and 24-time All-Star, leaves behind an indelible legacy as one of baseball’s greatest players.

Born in 1931, Mays began his illustrious career with the New York Giants in 1951. His exceptional talent was evident early on, as he caught the attention of MLB teams while still in high school, playing for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro American League. Over his career, Mays amassed numerous accolades, including 12 Gold Glove Awards, two All-Star Game MVPs, and a World Series championship in 1954. His impressive resume secured him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame with ease.

Impact on Baseball

Willie Mays’ impact on baseball extended far beyond his statistics. Known for his incredible defensive plays, powerful home runs, and swift baserunning, Mays was a fan favorite and a hero to many. One of his most memorable moments came during the 1954 World Series with his iconic over-the-shoulder catch, famously known as “The Catch.” This play not only showcased his athletic prowess but also his keen game sense, as he quickly threw the ball back to prevent runners from advancing, contributing to the Giants’ victory.

Willie Mays, supreme baseball talent among the best to ever play, dies at 93

“Today we have lost a true legend,” stated Giants Chair Greg Johnson. “Willie Mays’ combination of tremendous talent, keen intellect, showmanship, and boundless joy set him apart. He had a profound influence not only on the game of baseball but on the fabric of America.”

Personal Reflections and Legacy

Reflecting on Mays’ influence, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer shared, “I fell in love with baseball because of Willie, plain and simple. Over the past 30 years, working with Willie and seeing firsthand his zest for life and unbridled passion for giving to young players and kids has been one of the joys of my life.”

The MLB legend hit 660 home runs in his illustrious career.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also paid tribute to Mays, acknowledging his role in inspiring generations of players and fans. “Willie Mays took his all-around brilliance from the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League to the historic Giants franchise. From coast to coast, Willie inspired generations of players and fans as the game grew and truly earned its place as our National Pastime.”

Mays’ career statistics are staggering. He remains the Giants’ franchise leader in games played (2,857), hits (3,187), runs (2,011), doubles (504), and home runs (646). His number 24 was retired by the Giants, and he concluded his playing days with the New York Mets in 1973.

Tributes and Memorials

Following his retirement, Mays continued to influence the sport and its community. In 2015, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, recognizing his contributions both on and off the field.

The Giants announced that a public celebration of Mays’ life would be held at a later date. Fans wishing to offer their condolences can send letters to the Mays family through the San Francisco Giants. Additionally, MLB plans to honor Mays during a regular-season game at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, where Mays played with the Black Barons. This game, originally intended to celebrate Mays and his peers, will now serve as a national remembrance of his legacy.

Mets co-owners Steve and Alex Cohen expressed their condolences, highlighting Mays’ final playing days with their team. “Willie Mays was one of the greatest to ever play the game,” they stated. “Willie ended his Hall of Fame career in Queens and was a key piece to the 1973 NL championship team. On behalf of our entire organization, we send our thoughts and prayers to Willie’s family and friends.”

As the baseball community mourns the loss of Willie Mays, his legacy as one of the sport’s greatest athletes and a true American hero will continue to inspire future generations.