1948 – 1950 Willie Mays

Willie Howard Mays, Jr. was born in 1931 in Westfield, Alabama just west of Rickwood Field. Mays started playing for the Birmingham Black Baron’s when he was still in high school, but his father would not let him join the team until he graduated. In 1948, he played 13 games for the Black Barons and led the team to the Negro American League championship. Mays went on to join the New York Giants in 1951 where he was named “Rookie of the Year.” Mays played for the Giants for 21 seasons and in 1954 made an outfield, over the shoulder catch to save a homerun and win the game. “The Catch” is thought of by many as the greatest defensive play in baseball history. In 1954, Leo Durocher once said, ““If somebody came up and hit .450, stole 100 bases and performed a miracle in the field every day, I’d still look you in the eye and say Willie was better.” Mays was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

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