Photo Courtesy of William C. Greene/New York World Telegram and the Sun

Baseball fans (and really sports fans in general) lost a legend recently, as Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away on Tuesday. Mays was 93.

Mays was a legend in every sense of the word, and during his career, he accomplished great things. Here are five accolades of the great Willie Mays

1.) He was a World Series champion

Willie Mays joined the New York Giants in 1951. Before that, he played for the Chattanooga Choo-Choos ( a Negro minor league team) and the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. His talent caught the attention of the Major League, and after signing a contract, he spent time with the New York Giants’ Class B and Triple-A teams before being called up to the Giants. Mays won NL Rookie of the Year that year. In 1952, Mays was drafted to serve in the Korean War. He reported to Fort Eustis in Virginia. Once Mays was discharged, he returned to the Giants. When he returned, the Giants won the World Series. This was the series where Mays’ legendary catch happened. The Giants won the series 4-0 over Cleveland Indians (now the Guardians) to become the 1954 World Series champions.

2.) He was a two-time NL MVP

Mays had a successful 1954 season, as he won his first NL MVP. That year he became the first player in history to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star Game. His second NL MVP came years later, as he won the award again in 1965. By that time, the Giants had moved to San Francisco. They made the move in 1958. Mays also signed a contract for a record-setting $105,000 per season in 1963. Mays accomplished a number of things in 1965, as he won multiple NL Player of the Month awards and he finished the season with a career-best 52 home runs. He also hit his 500th home run in that period. Mays made an impact on the Giants in many ways, and his two MVP wins showed that.

3.) He was a 24-time All-Star

Making the All-Star game is a huge honor in any sport. There have been greats in the NBA that have made several throughout their career. LeBron James has made 20. Tom Brady made the Pro Bowl 15 times in his career. Baseball is no exception, and some of the league’s greatest players have made several All-Star appearances. Mays is a 24-time All-Star, making the game from 1954 to 1973. He is tied with Stan Musial for number of All-Star appearances. Hank Aaron holds the record for most All-Star appearances with 25. Mays’ appearances in the All-Star game not only showed his longevity, but how talented he was.

4.) He is a Baseball Hall of Fame Member

The Baseball Hall of Fame is another high honor, and Mays made it in 1979. It was his first year of eligibility. Of the 432 ballots cast, Mays was on 409. He was also the oldest living member of the Hall of Fame prior to his death. Mays earned this honor through the accolades previously mentioned (such as the 1954 World Series) as well as his 3,293 hits, 660 home runs, 339 stolen bases and so on. The Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown, New York, and can be a great place for the avid baseball fan to visit. You can see Mays’ memorial plaque.

5.) He was a 12-time Gold Glove Winner

The Gold Glove is a prestigious award given to players who exhibit fielding excellence. They had stand out performances and truly made an impact when their team needed them. It is about defense. Mays was a 12-time Gold Glove winner, with his first being in 1957. He went on to win every year up to 1968. Mays is tied with Roberto Clemente for most Gold Glove wins by an outfielder. His Gold Glove wins show he could not only hit, he was impactful when it came to fielding as well.

Mays was an incredible talent, and he impacted the game of baseball. His legend will live on, as we continue to honor him. 

#WillieMays #BaseballLegend #HallOfFamer

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