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Baseball legend Willy Mays dies at 93 just before being honored in Alabama

Baseball is in mourning after the death, at age 93, of Willie Mays, a center fielder who acquired legendary status during his lifetime

Muere Willys Mays
Willy Mays | EFE

June 19, 2024 1:43am

Updated: June 19, 2024 8:27pm

Major League Baseball is in mourning after the death, at age 93, of Willie Mays, a center fielder who acquired legendary status during his lifetime.

Willie Mays was born on May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Alabama, in a context of racial segregation. At the age of 16 he joined the Birmingham Barons of the Negro American League, beginning a career that would lead him to be one of the most iconic players in baseball. In 1950 the New York Giants purchased his contract, which marked the beginning of a stellar career in the Major Leagues.

After playing for 22 seasons, primarily with the New York Giants and later San Francisco, Mays left behind impressive statistics: a .302 batting average, 660 home runs, 3,283 hits and more than 2,000 runs scored. In addition, he won 12 Gold Glove Awards, standing out not only for his offense but also for his spectacular defense.

Mays was known for his ability to make incredible catches and his electrifying runs around the bases. His over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series is one of the most memorable defensive plays in baseball history.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed the widespread sense of loss.

“Willie Mays carried his brilliance in everything from the Black Barons of the Negro American League to the historic Giants franchise, from coast to coast in New York. and San Francisco … Willie inspired entire generations of ballplayers and fans as the sport grew and truly earned its place as our National Pastime.”

Mays was the oldest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame until his death. His legacy goes beyond his impressive statistics and memorable plays. He was a symbol of excellence and perseverance that inspired countless players and fans throughout the years.

Willie Mays’ son, Michael Mays, expressed the family's grief and gratitude.

“My father has passed away peacefully and surrounded by his loved ones. I want to thank all of you, from the bottom of my broken heart, for the unconditional love you have shown him over the years. You have been the inspiration of his life.”

Mays' death occurred just two days before a special event at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, where the Negro Leagues would be honored in a game between the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.