Willie Mays, Baseball’s Electrifying Player of Power and Grace, Is Dead at 93

Mays, the Say Hey Kid, was the game’s exuberant embodiment of the complete player. Some say he was the greatest of them all.

THE NEW YORK TIMES – Willie Mays, the spirited center fielder whose brilliance at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths for the Giants led many to call him the greatest all-around player in baseball history, died on Tuesday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 93.

Larry Baer, the president and chief executive of the Giants, said Mays, the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, died in an assisted living facility.

Mays compiled extraordinary statistics in 22 National League seasons with the Giants in New York and San Francisco and a brief return to New York with the Mets, preceded by a 1948 stint in the Negro leagues. He hit 660 career home runs and had 3,293 hits and a .301 career batting average.

But he did more than personify the complete ballplayer. An exuberant style of play and an effervescent personality made Mays one of the game’s, and America’s, most charismatic figures, a name that even people far afield from the baseball world recognized instantly as a national treasure.

Charles M. Schulz was such a fan that Mays often came up by name in Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip. (Asked to spell “maze” in a spelling bee, Charlie Brown ventured, “M … A … Y… S.”) Woody Allen’s alter ego in “Manhattan” ranked Mays No. 2 on his list of joys that made life worthwhile. (Groucho Marx was No. 1.) In 1954, the R&B group the Treniers recorded “Say Hey (the Willie Mays Song).”

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“When I broke in, I didn’t know many people by name,” Mays once explained, “so I would just say, ‘Say, hey,’ and the writers picked that up.”

Mays propelled himself into the Hall of Fame with thrilling flair, his cap flying off as he chased down a drive or ran the bases.

“He had an open manner, friendly, vivacious, irrepressible,” the baseball writer Leonard Koppett said of the young Mays …

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