Last night, inner-circle Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away at the age of 93. Tributes are flowing in from everywhere and few ballplayers deserved them more than Mays. The catch he made in the 1954 World Series will be forever my first memory of Mays, thanks to the video highlight we have of it. As for his time with the Mets, the image burned in my brain is of the 1973 World Series, Game 2, with Mays on his knees exasperated with the umpire for missing the call on Buddy Harrelson scoring the winning run.

Of course, what most people bring up is his outfield play in the series. But that’s never how I’ve chosen to remember Mays. In a perfect world, Rusty Staub doesn’t get hurt in 1972 and the Mets make and win the series that year. Or Yogi Berra starts George Stone in Game 6 and they win in ’73. Mays deserved the storybook ending to go out as a World Series winner. Some might believe it’s the only thing missing from his career.

Earlier this year, Mays got some missing hits, as MLB officially added Negro League statistics to its register. The Negro League stats are still not complete. Essentially, what they did was to require full box scores to include stats into the official records. There are at least two newspaper articles that mention Mays hitting a home run. But with no accompanying box score, those are not yet included. Hopefully someday. Researchers estimate that 80-85% of the stats from the 1920-1948 Negro League seasons are included now in MLB records.

Some of the nattering nabobs of negativism – you can love the phrase without loving the person who uttered it – are upset with the inclusion of Negro League stats in MLB’s records. But for me, the Negro Leagues are one of the things that prove how great baseball is as a game. When blacks were prohibited from playing in MLB, what did they do? They started their own leagues. That’s f’ing awesome.

And that description can be applied to Mays, too.

10 comments on “Wednesday catch-all thread (6/19/24)

  • Brian Joura

    “A few key position-player prospects lost time with injuries. Atop that list is top prospect Jett Williams, who said at Globe Life Field — he lives nearby and Mendoza asked him to be with the team — that he planned to participate in the Arizona Fall League but acknowledged he would likely be out the rest of the year after wrist surgery. ”

    • Metstabolism

      Interesting development. I couldn’t access the article. Just thinking out loud here, but… The last update on on June 7 said 8 – 10 weeks. How did that morph into 4 months? Its hard to reconcile that discrepancy. Even if we take into account that the AA season ends in early-mid Sept, thats still 13 – 14 weeks.

      • Brian Joura

        There wasn’t anything more in the article about Williams than what I quoted.

        It’s certainly disappointing to hear that he thinks he’s done for the year. But he did say “likely,” which still leaves the door open a bit. We can’t expect all top prospects to move forward in a year. Does the MLB success – admittedly in small samples – for Butto, Scott and Vientos make up for the seemingly lost seasons for Gilbert and Williams? I’d say yes, even with Williams being my favorite prospect heading into the season.

        • Metstabolism

          I certainly don’t ever expect all top prospects to move forward each and every year. In fact I’m usually more bearish than most on how fast they will move.
          My only thought here was that I didn’t understand the discrepancy in the timelines.
          As to your point on MLB success, I agree. noting that happens in the minors provides any certainty. Even players who succeed in the majors often spend a year or two of back-and-forth between the majors and AAA in order to bridge the gap and transition to the bigs for good. Case in point would be Ventos, as well as Butto.

  • Steve_S.

    I was a Brooklyn Dodger fan growing up in NYC, with Roy Campanella my favorite player, but I did love Willie Mays, with his great, feet-first slides (his hat flying off his head), his awesome power, and, of course, his great catches! The first baseball game I ever saw was the Game 1 of the 1954 World Series and I watched Willie catch that blast off Vic Wertz’s bat—a mere 450 feet from home plate. It was on a TV that was mainly a wooden box with a very small screen that my Uncle Frank brought over to our apartment. Naturally, Willie’s hat flew off his head as he turned around to throw the ball in. 450 feet, with Mays running all out! RIP Willie.

  • Hobie

    Just got home from school (4G) to see The Catch. Wertz was 4/5 that day with a 2B & a 3B. Game & possibly series-changing play as there were 2 on & the game went into Xtras.
    Tried the basket catch any number of times in LL & sandlot—always chickened out, putting fingers up at the last second. Hope someone (not named Marte) does that tonight. Cool thought.

    • Brian Joura

      What a great thought! Gary and Keith would lose their minds if Nimmo did that.

      Not sure if you’re a college basketball fan but it made me think of LMU. Hank Gathers, who collapsed on the court, would shoot his first free throw of the game left handed. Teammate Bo Kimble did a tribute to Gathers by shooting his first free throw lefty.

    • Metstabolism

      I love the idea. Considering the magnitude of Mays’ career and talent, It would be even more fitting if at least one OF in every game tonight made a basket catch.

  • Metsense

    If the Mets are competing at the deadline then Severino, Martinez and Alonso will stay until the end of the year. Stearns said wanted to field a competitive team and so far he has. He wouldn’t gut the team because of the fan market fallout. Stearns has proven with his moves that he is a smart guy. Going into the season, he knew and was well aware of this situation with Alonso and how he was going to deal with it. Sell Alonso if they were non-competitive. If competitive then stay put and bite the bullet and spin it with the media.

  • NYM6986

    Got to see Willie play in the 60s at Shea Stadium when the Giants were in town. He was a legend by then. Saw him live at a ‘73 series game but at that point he was a shell of his former self. Not sure I ever saw a better five tool player than him. Mantle could do it all but never took care of himself and that led to his demise. Starting thinking who are the five tool players with sustained careers over the last 20-30 plus years and came up pretty short. First issue was that there were actually not many real five tool players throughout history. There have been some great players in the last 30 years like Bonds, Pujols, Trout, Ramirez, ARod, Jeter, Boggs, Brett, Piazza, Puckett, and the list goes on.
    Have any of them or various others reached the status of a Mays, Mantle, Jackie Robinson, DiMaggio, or Aaron? None. Perhaps these players were just a level above the rest and I didn’t forget Babe, but as enormous as he was, both in stature and size, he couldn’t run and his best throwing was from the pitchers mound, not the outfield.

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