SAY HEY: The Autobiography of Willie Mays by Willie with Lou Sahadi Mays

SAY HEY: The Autobiography of Willie Mays

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Steak-and-potatoes autobiography--informative, filling, but unspiced, almost bland--from a man many consider the best baseball player of all time. Thank goodness Mays didn't become the laundry-presser he was trained for in late 1940's Alabama--although he did have a knack for taking opposing pitchers to the cleaners. Rescued at age 16 by Piper Davis of the Black Barons, who introduced him to Negro League baseball, Mays proceeded to tear up both that league and AAA ball (.477 average) before storming up to the majors under the gaudy wing of Leo Durocher. From the start, the ""Say Hey Kid"" got it right. He slammed his first major-league hit--a homer --off Warren Spahn; he was Rookie of the Year and helped lead the New York Giants to the World Series. A few obstacles tell his way--a year in the army, some marital and financial difficulties--but nothing seriously impeded his subsequent progress towards a spectacular lifetime total of 3283 hits, 660 home runs, two MVP awards, 24 All-Star games. Mays tracks his accumulation year-by-year, keeping us abreast of the changing fortunes of the Giants, of his two rivals for Centerfielder of the Fifties (Duke Snider, Mickey Mantle), of--a nice touch--the nation itself, as he fills us in on each year's top songs, fads, news stories. This book relies heavily on nostalgia; and reading of Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, even lesser lights like Sal ""The Barber"" Maglie (so-called for his wicked brush-back pitch), not to mention Mays' own maturing into a ""legend in residence,"" a convincing case emerges for the oft-argued view of contemporary players as midgets standing on the back of giants. A bonanza for Mays fans. Mays' lack of modesty grates--he constantly reminds us of his rank among the immortals--but it can be argued that it takes a legend to know a legend. Mays is a baseball god, and this is his testament, without the razzle-dazzle of his fielding, but as solid as his standing at the head of the Hall of Fame.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1988
Publisher: Simon & Schuster