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 - The First Full Season

league davis led hit

Mays returned to the Giants in 1954 for his first full season and led his team to a world championship. That season he hit .345, blasted forty-one home runs, and won the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. He also led the league in batting average.

During the 1954 World Series, Mays made what is perhaps one of the most famous defensive plays in baseball. "The Catch," as it has come to be known, was a blind, over the shoulder basket pick Mays made while running down a ball heading toward the fence. When it dropped into his glove, the fans were amazed. Willie had robbed the Indians' Vic Wertz of what should have been an extra base hit. Mays' catch held the Indians to only one run that inning, and the Giants re-tied the game, going on to win it in the tenth.

As recently as 2002 Mays would tell the New York Daily News that his famous catch, "Doesn't come close to the one I made in Ebbets Field off the Dodgers' Bobby Morgan the first week of the '52 season." That was a catch where, in the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded, Morgan's line drive over the shortstop found Mays diving, head first, to make the play. He hit the fence, knocked himself out, but still came up with the ball.

His accomplishments on the field could fill volumes. In 1955, Mays hit fifty-one homers, only the seventh person at the time to do so. He led the National League in triples and slugging percentage, and was second in stolen bases. In 1961 he became only the fifth player to hit four home runs in a single game. And then in 1962, led the Giants back into the World Series, the culmination of a stellar season, with 141 runs batted in—his career high.

Willie Mays made twenty-four straight All-Star appearances and had more than 3000 career base hits. His effortless play would be summed up in single word by writers and fans, who called him "graceful" and "elegant." Truly a joy to watch at every part of the game, Mays was perhaps most stunning on the basepaths. Starting in 1956, he led the league in stolen bases four years straight. In addition to this, he averaged forty-five home runs per season for the first half of the sixties. At the end of his career, he would walk away with 660 home runs and 1903 RBIs. Willie Mays was a Renaissance player, the guy who could do it all.

Related Biography: Baseball Coach Piper Davis

Though he would never get a chance to play in the major leagues, Piper Davis teamed with Artie Wilson, who went on to the majors, to form one of the outstanding double-play combinations in Negro League baseball.

Davis became one of the best player/managers in the Negro leagues, both playing and coaching Willie Mays, serving as one of the young Mays' father figures as he made his way to the majors.

During the 1948, 1949, and 1950 seasons, Davis would lead his team, the Birmingham Black Barons, with a .353 batting average. He also led the 1948 Negro National League in RBIs, and his team would go on to win the 1948 Negro League World Series.

In 1951, Davis became the first black signed by the Boston Red Sox, though he would never play in a major league game.

Piper Davis was an outstanding athlete, utilizing his skills not only on the baseball field, but also playing basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Willie Mays - Related Biography: Baseball Coach Piper Davis [next] [back] Willie Mays - Chronology

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or