Friday, August 17, 2012

HOF Sketch Card Project: Willie Mays

Willie Mays was widely considered to be the greatest ballplayer of his generation, and a case can even be made for him being THE greatest athlete to ever step foot on a Major League field. Nicknamed "The Say Hey Kid", he spent most of his career with the New York/San Francisco Giants (1951-72) before finishing his career with the New York Mets (1972-73). Mays was a two-time National League MVP and is tied with Stan Musial for having played in a record 24 All Star Games. Despite his outstanding offensive numbers - 660 homers, 3,283 hits and 1,903 RBI - he is perhaps most famously known for "The Catch", his over-the-shoulder catch that robbed Indians batter Vic Wertz of an extra-base hit in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series (the Giants would go on to win the World Series that year).

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility.

I completed this sketch card in August 2012:

I completed this sketch card in October 2012:

10 random facts about Willie Mays:
  • Mays began his major league career with no hits in his first 12 at-bats. On his 13th at bat, he hit a homer over the left field fence of the Polo Grounds off future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn.
  • Mays won a record-tying 12 Gold Gloves during his career.
  • He hit 4 home runs in one game on April 30, 1961.
  • He is one of 5 National Leaguers to have 8 consecutive 100-RBI seasons (the other players are Mel Ott, Sammy Sosa, Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols). 
  • Mays hit over 50 home runs in 1955 and 1965, representing the longest time span between 50-plus home run seasons for any player in Major League history.
  • Mays is the only Major League player to have hit a home run in every inning from the 1st through the 16th innings.
  • He finished his career with a record 22 extra-inning home runs.
  • Mays was the on-deck batter when Bobby Thomson hit his famous pennant-winning home run, "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," on Oct. 3, 1951. 
  • Willie Mays Day was proclaimed by former mayor Willie Brown and reaffirmed by mayor Gavin Newsom to be every May 24 in San Francisco, paying tribute not only to his birth in the month (May 6), but also to his name (Mays) and jersey number (24). The date is also the anniversary of his call-up to the major leagues.
  • Years before he became the "Say Hey Kid," when he began his professional career with the Black Barons, Mays was called "Buck" by teammates and fans.

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