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MLB legend Willie Mays dead at 93

MLB legend Willie Mays dead at 93

MLB legend Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid,” died Tuesday afternoon, the San Francisco Giants announced. 

Mays was 93 years old. 

“It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 93,” the Giants said in a statement.


Willie Mays in field

The MLB legend hit 660 home runs in his illustrious career. (Getty Images)

Michael Mays, Willie’s son, added, “My father has passed away peacefully and among loved ones. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart for the unwavering love you have shown him over the years. You have been his life’s blood.”

Mays was one of the greatest ballplayers to ever grace a baseball diamond, beginning in 1951 as a 20-year-old making his debut playing for the New York Giants. Mays caught the eyes of MLB teams while playing in the Negro American League with the Birmingham Black Barons, and he was still in high school when scouts were clamoring for him. 

Mays would go on to be a 24-time All-Star, two-time MVP, 12-time Gold Glover, two-time All-Star Game MVP, Rookie of the Year and 1954 World Series champion in an illustrious career that led to an easy Hall of Fame induction. 


“Today we have lost a true legend,” Giants Chair Greg Johnson said. “In the pantheon of baseball greats, Willie Mays’ combination of tremendous talent, keen intellect, showmanship, and boundless joy set him apart. A 24-time All-Star, the Say Hey Kid is the ultimate Forever Giant. He had a profound influence not only on the game of baseball, but on the fabric of America. He was an inspiration and a hero who will be forever remembered and deeply missed.”

Giants president and CEO Larry Baer added, “I fell in low with baseball because of Willie, plain and simple. My childhood was defined by going to Candlestick with my dad, watching Willie patrol centerfield with grace and the ultimate athleticism. 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.”

Mays was known for his ability to wow crowds with thunderous home runs, slick baserunning and miraculous plays in center field. One of the most iconic plays ever in MLB came in that 1954 World Series and was forever called “The Catch.”

Willie Mays catch

Willie Mays of the New York Giants makes his iconic over-the-shoulder catch of a fly ball against the then-Cleveland Indians during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series on Sept. 29, 1954, in New York. (Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

In Game 1, Mays was on a dead sprint deep into the Polo Grounds outfield with the game tied in the eighth inning, 2-2, against the then-Cleveland Indians. Vic Wertz hit a fly ball with runners on base, and it looked like the lead was about to be broken. 

That was until Mays made a jaw-dropping, over-the-shoulder catch and had the quick presence of mind to throw the ball back in so runners couldn’t advance. The Giants went on to win the game, 5-2, and that play forever became one of the greatest ever.

“All of Major League Baseball is in mourning today as we are gathered at the very ballpark where a career and a legacy like no other began. 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 in New York and San Francisco, Willie inspired generations of players and fans as the game crew and truly earned its place as our National Pastime,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said.

Mays’ No. 24 was retired by the Giants, and he remains the franchise leader in games played (2,857), hits (3,187), runs (2,011), doubles (504), home runs (646) and many more statistics. He ended his career with the New York Mets in 1973.

“Willie Mays was one of the greatest to ever play the game,” Mets co-owners Steve and Alex Cohen said in a statement. “Willie ended his Hall of Fame career in Queens and was a key piece to the 1973 NL championship team. Mays played with a style and grace like no one else. Alex and I were thrilled to honor a previous promise from Joan Payson to retire his iconic #24 as a member of the Mets in 2022. 

“On behalf of our entire organization, we send our thoughts and prayers to Willie’s family and friends.”

Mays, who spent most of 1952 and all of 1953 serving in the Army, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2015. 

Not only is he considered one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game, he’s widely thought of as one of the greatest athletes in history.

The Giants will announce a public celebration of Mays’ life at a later date. In the meantime, fans who wish to offer condolences may send letters to the Mays family care of the San Francisco Giants, attention Forever 24, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107.

Willie Mays Portait

MLB icon Willie Mays died on June 18, 2024. He was 93. (Getty Images)


MLB is also set to play a regular-season game on Thursday at the historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, where Mays played his Negro League games with the Black Barons, between the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. 

“Thursday’s game at historic Rickwood Field was designed to be a celebration of Willie Mays and his peers. With sadness in our hearts, it will now serve as a national remembrance of an American hero who will forever remain on the short list of the most impactful individuals our great game has ever known,” Manfred said.

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