It’s Willie Mays’ 86th birthday today, and we should spend the day in a dark room, doing nothing but thinking about how awesome he was. Except that’s not terribly practical, so we’ll have to resort to other tributes.
I’ll repost this comic book from the public domain, then, because it does a pretty good job telling the story of his early years and conveying the proper sense of wonder. This comic came out when he was just 23 years old, and included the following passage:
Willie Mays has yet to win a place in baseball’s Hall of Fame, but few doubt that some day he’ll stand with such immortals as Joe DiMaggio, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and the great Babe Ruth! Only once in a blue moon does there appear in baseball such a miracle of skill, of split-second timing and co-ordination as there is in this twenty-three-year-old AMAZING MAYS!
So glad there wasn’t a baseball nerd around to tell the author, “Well, actually, there’s a lot that can happen in a player’s career before he reaches Hall of Fame consideration. For instance ...” Because Mays was so clearly the greatest that he got comic books with that kind of write-up when he was just 23.
Happy birthday to the greatest! Happy birthday to Willie Mays!