On this day in Alabama history: Willie Mays was born

On this day in Alabama history: Willie Mays was born
Willie Mays (1931-) is a baseball legend who began his career in Alabama. Adept at the plate and in the field, he played for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro Leagues before signing with the New York Giants in 1950. Mays went on to dominate the major leagues, with a .302 career batting average, 3,283 hits and 660 home runs. He was voted Most Valuable Player in 1954 and 1965, won 12 Gold Glove awards and made 24 appearances at the All-Star game. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Archives; courtesy of Faye Davis)

May 6, 1931

The world first said “Hey” to the “Say Hey Kid” on May 6, 1931. Born in the community of Westfield, Alabama, Mays was a multi-sport star for Fairfield Industrial High School near Birmingham. His professional career began sooner than his 1950 graduation, as he played Negro Leagues baseball for clubs in Chattanooga and Birmingham. Several major league franchises started bidding for his services, and he ended up with the New York Giants’ farm team in Trenton, New Jersey.

He didn’t stay there for long, getting the call-up to the Giants in May 1951, the first of his 22 seasons in the majors. He finished his career with the New York Mets, with a lifetime batting average of .302, and more than 3,200 base hits. He remains fifth on the all-time MLB home run list with 660.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.


Related Stories