Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Willie Mays Biography - Growing Up, A Way Out, Tough Times In The North, Chronology, The First Full Season - Several Father Figures, CONTACT INFORMATION

Willie Mays - A Way Out

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As with many players who grew up poor, and especially black players in the rural South, Willie Mays knew baseball was his ticket out of poverty, a way out of the steelmill life his father knew. It was also a way out of the blatantly racist and segregated South. As a child, Mays would much rather have been playing ball than studying. Rather than books, he focused his intelligence on the only game that ever consumed him. Since he grew up in dugouts and watching his father play, he studied strategy and technique instead of reading and writing.

His time in the dugouts also taught him how to deal with the competition among men while he was just a boy. At only thirteen, Mays played on the Gray Sox, a semi-professional team. By he time he started high school at fifteen, he would make $250 a month on the Birmingham Black Barons. This seemed ideal for a person born into Mays' situation. The money coming in was more than any part time job would ever pay, and he made it doing what he loved. Mays finished high school, but he finished it as a professional baseball player.

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