On his birthday, here's a friendly reminder that Willie Mays is a living MLB legend
Willie Mays' 3,283 career hits, 660 home runs, .941 lifetime OPS, two NL MVP Awards and 1951 Rookie of the Year Award give him all the introduction he needs.
Today, the "Say Hey Kid" turns 84, which is the only excuse true fans of the game need to spend the rest of the day ooh-ing and aah-ing over the incredible moments and accomplishments from Mays' 22-year MLB career.
Any list of Mays' impressive feats should start and end with "The Catch." In Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, Mays famously turned his back to home plate and sprinted toward the center-field wall of the Polo Grounds to make an incredible basket catch in the top of the eighth inning. More impressively, perhaps, Mays spun around and fired the ball back toward the infield to prevent Larry Doby from tagging and scoring from second.
Mays started his career on an 0-for-23 schneid, but notched his first hit by homering off Hall of Fame hurler Warren Spahn.
After missing the 1953 season while serving his country in the Korean War, Mays returned to baseball and led the Majors with a .345 batting average. He made his first of 20 consecutive All-Star Games and won the NL MVP.
On April 30, 1961, Mays mashed four home runs in a game against the Brewers and was on deck for a chance at an MLB-record fifth dinger when the Giants' half of the ninth inning ended.
In July '63, Mays got the best of Spahn again. Spahn and fellow Hall of Famer Juan Marichal had matched each other, each tossing 15 scoreless innings to start a marathon between the Giants and the Milwaukee Braves. Mays broke it open with a solo home run.
He found himself atop the NL squad's batting order in the 1965 Midsummer Classic. He wasted no time getting the offense going, hitting a leadoff home run off Milt Pappas.
In September of that season, Mays launched his 500th career home run off Don Nottebart. He was the fifth player to reach the milestone.
In July 1970, Mays notched a single against the Expos to become the 10th player in MLB history to record 3,000 hits.
He'd go on to hit 238 more and would finish his career with 156.2 WAR and a record-tying 12 Gold Glove Awards. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.
And, like I said, any list of Mays' impressive feats should start and end with "The Catch."
Do you think Willie Mays is one of the four greatest living ballplayers? You can cast your ballot for him in this year's Franchise Four vote by clicking here.