Memorial Day Weekend Series- Part 16 of 16
No. 1 Willie Mays
Cobb or DiMaggio would likely be considered the greatest center fielders in the history of baseball had Willie Mays not come along. The "Say Hey Kid" was the consummate five-tool player and is widely considered the second greatest player of all-time behind only the legendary babe Ruth.
Mays broke into the "Bigs" with the New York Giants in 1951 at the ripe old age of 19 with an NL Rookie of the Year campaign that was modest in comparison to what he would do later in his career.
Early in his sophomore season, Mays was drafted by the U.S. Army to serve in the Korean War. Although he did not go into active combat, Mays missed most of the 1952 and all of the 1953 seasons.
He returned to the playing field in 1954 seemingly an even better player. "Say Hey" promptly won the NL MVP Award by hitting a league leading .345 with 41 HRs and 110 RBIs. He also led the Giants to a World Series Championship that was marked by "The Catch"— often considered the greatest play in the history of the national past-time.
Mays went onto to win another MVP, 24 All-Star selections, 12 Gold Gloves, two All-Star Game MVPs, four HR crowns, and four stolen base titles. His 660 HRs rank 4th, 6,066 total bases rank 3rd, 2,062 runs rank 7th, 3,283 hits rank 11th, and 1,903 RBI rank 10th all-time in major league baseball.
AB R H HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
10881 2062 3283 660 1903 338 .302 .384 .557
A Special Tribute and Thank You
So there you have it— the best of the best. We salute these 15 great Major League Baseball players who gave themselves to their country along with the approximately 40 million other United States Veterans.
And, as we approach Memorial Day, please let this serve as a humble and very special thank you to all Veterans of the United States Armed Services— past or present, living or deceased— who have served so bravely and selflessly.