willie mays passes away at 93
Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park on April 7, 2016 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 12-6. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Willie Mays, the legendary baseball player known as the “Say Hey Kid,” has passed away at the age of 93.

The former center fielder for the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets died peacefully on June 18, as announced by the San Francisco Giants and Major League Baseball (MLB).

“It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 93,” read a statement from the Giants.

Mays’ son, Michael Mays, also expressed his sorrow: “My father has passed away peacefully and among loved ones. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart for the unwavering love you have shown him over the years. You have been his life’s blood.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred praised Mays’ impact on the game and his legacy: “His incredible achievements and statistics do not begin to describe the awe that came with watching Willie Mays dominate the game in every way imaginable. We will never forget this true Giant on and off the field.”

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Born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama, Mays began his baseball career with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League.

He was signed by the Giants in 1950 and quickly made a name for himself, earning the National League’s Rookie of the Year award in 1951 with 20 home runs.

Over his 21-season career, Mays accumulated 660 home runs, 3,283 hits, 24 All-Star selections, two National League MVP awards, and 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Willie Mays’ legacy is deeply ingrained in the history of baseball.

His No. 24 jersey was retired by both the Giants and the Mets.

“I can never forget the way it felt to return to New York to play for all the loyal Mets fans,” Mays said in a statement read by Howie Rose during the Mets’ Old-Timers’ Day celebration in 2022.

“I’m tremendously proud I ended my career in Queens with the Mets during the ’73 World Series. It’s an honor to have my number retired in my two favorite cities — New York and San Francisco. New York was a magical place to play baseball.”

Mays’ life and career were chronicled in the 2022 HBO documentary “Say Hey, Willie Mays!

The film explored not only his athletic prowess but also the racism and controversies he faced.

In response to criticism from Jackie Robinson about remaining silent during the civil rights movement, Mays said, “Everyone must do his own job in his own way. And in my heart, my way is just as important as Jackie Robinson’s way.”

Among those who cherished Mays was former President Barack Obama, who awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

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On Mays’ 91st birthday, Obama shared a video of their conversation aboard Air Force One, highlighting Mays’ influence on his own journey to the White House.

Mays is survived by his son, Michael, and godson, Barry Bonds, the former baseball player and son of Mays’ close friend and teammate, Bobby Bonds.

Barry Bonds expressed his grief on Instagram: “I am beyond devastated and overcome with emotion. 💔 I have no words to describe what you mean to me- you helped shape me to be who I am today. Thank you for being my Godfather and always being there. Give my dad a hug for me. Rest in peace Willie, I love you forever.”

Willie Mays’ passing marks the end of an era in baseball, but his legacy as a true giant of the game will live on forever.

My sincerest condolences and prayers to the Mays family and all who knew, loved, and cherished Willie.

May he rest in peace.

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