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85 huh!!!!   Once upon a time Willie Mays personified youth and speed and everything connected to being the greatest ballplayer of his day.  In fact here is Willie Mays circa 1951, 1952 playing stickball with his neighbors in Harlem as he was in his first or second year with the then NY giants:

willie mays harlem.jpg

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During the 1954 World Series Willie Mays made what has often been described as the greatest catch in baseball history.  It wasn't JUST the catch, it was also the throw that doubled up the runner, all in the World Series.  and to top it off it was a catch in the deepest part of the Polo Grounds Center Field, the furthest point from home plate in baseball history  

Baseball History-->

Vin Scully, long time Dodger announcer says he saw Mays make an even greater catch...and Willie Mays agrees with him.-> A catch better than the greatest catch!!!!

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Mays clearly had the "5 tools" that mark a baseball great. Unfortunately, having met him in person a few times, and from others with similar experiences, he is a surly individual. A different personality that endeared him to fans and media would have greatly enhanced his legendary status.

What I find curious is that a team with Hall-of-Famers Mays-McCovey-Marichal (throw in the Alou brothers, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry) couldn't win a championship in San Francisco.

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4 minutes ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

Mays clearly had the "5 tools" that mark a baseball great. Unfortunately, having met him in person a few times, and from others with similar experiences, he is a surly individual. A different personality that endeared him to fans and media would have greatly enhanced his legendary status.

What I find curious is that a team with Hall-of-Famers Mays-McCovey-Marichal (throw in the Alou brothers, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry) couldn't win a championship in San Francisco.

A couple years ago, I was walking past AT&T Park (where the SF Giants play now). They have plaques outside commemorating their best players, and I did a double-take when I saw how good Orlando Cepeda's stats were in San Francisco. Forget the latter part of his career; just look at his statistics while he played as a Giant.

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16 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

A couple years ago, I was walking past AT&T Park (where the SF Giants play now). They have plaques outside commemorating their best players, and I did a double-take when I saw how good Orlando Cepeda's stats were in San Francisco. Forget the latter part of his career; just look at his statistics while he played as a Giant.

One of the few quirks of that era, along with the late '60s Cubs. As in -- how can a team with so many stars never win a championship?

In the Cubs' case, they had Hall-of-Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams -- and NEVER MADE THE POST SEASON!!!

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

One of the few quirks of that era, along with the late '60s Cubs. As in -- how can a team with so many stars never win a championship?

In the Cubs' case, they had Hall-of-Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams -- and NEVER MADE THE POST SEASON!!!

Not to state the obvious, but before 1969, there were no divisions and no playoffs; just an American League and a National League - you either won the pennant and made it to the World Series, or you didn't, and the Giants and the Cubs had the Dodgers and Cardinals to contend with.

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23 minutes ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

Mays clearly had the "5 tools" that mark a baseball great. Unfortunately, having met him in person a few times, and from others with similar experiences, he is a surly individual. A different personality that endeared him to fans and media would have greatly enhanced his legendary status.

What I find curious is that a team with Hall-of-Famers Mays-McCovey-Marichal (throw in the Alou brothers, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry) couldn't win a championship in San Francisco.

I recall watching some baseball in the 60's.  Sports was being shown more often.  For me as a young lad the idea and promise of getting to a major league stadium was ultimate excitement.   In the earlier part of that decade my 3 favorite every day players would have been Musial (b/c my older brother liked him), Mickey Mantle, b/c he was a home town Yank and simply had the greatest swing in the history of baseball, besides being capable of sending a baseball to the furthest reaches of the universe, and Willie Mays, as he was excitement personified in every aspect of the sport.

So years later I learned that Musial was very much the nice guy, Mantle was a drunk, and now I've learned that Willie Mays, the say hey kid was surly.  Oh cripes...there goes another boyhood belief crushed by reality.    Man, the televised and publicized version of Mays was as a very friendly approachable guy.   Surly or not, he still was excitement in the ballpark.  He must have a "public persona and a more private one", because after baseball he became a "greeter" at a casino, and he must have had his "happy face" on during those hours.

Regardless of personality Willie Mays could hit for average, for power, was a great outfielder, could steal bases, was fast in the outfield and on the bases and had a great arm.  What more do you want?  Could he carry a tune???

So why didn't those Giant teams do better in the late 50's and during the 60's with that great lineup?  Was it the competition?  Did the Giants of that time period have holes besides the stars?  I don't know or recall....but Willie Mays was still exciting as all heck.  About as exciting as any baseball player at any time I imagine.

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I think you "kind of" answered your own question ... those Giants teams were at least the equals of the Dodgers and Cardinals, the other two great NL teams of the '60s. In fact, you can easily argue that they were better than the Dodgers offensively, and only a slight bit below the Dodgers in pitching. Same with the Cardinals. However, the Dodgers and the Cardinals both had more speed, so maybe that's a factor.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, DaveO said:

Post Mays who would be most like him?   Ken Griffey Jr while he was playing for Seattle?  Anyone else?  Does Griffey Jr in Seattle measure up with Mays?

It's a little early, but I wouldn't rule out Mike Trout.

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19 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

It's a little early, but I wouldn't rule out Mike Trout.

 I know Trout is a great hitter but does he run like a greyhound, cover the outfield like he owns it, make unbelievable catches, have an arm like a bazooka, and steal bases like Willie Sutton robbed banks?  Mays was exemplary in all of those categories.

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59 minutes ago, DaveO said:

 I know Trout is a great hitter but does he run like a greyhound, cover the outfield like he owns it, make unbelievable catches, have an arm like a bazooka, and steal bases like Willie Sutton robbed banks?  Mays was exemplary in all of those categories.

Yes!

(His arm is not a bazooka, but he has everything, and I mean *everything,* else - the kid is *great*. Don't forget this slide.)

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13 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Yes!

Yes:  Mays was exemplary in all 5 qualities.....or Yes: Trout is a legitimate 5 tool player?  

Per these comments Trout's arm is not as bazooka-ish as that of Mays or other Roberto Clemente type of outfielders....and Trout does play left field, not Right, where the bazooka arms seem to migrate and gain fame.

OTOH:  Trout did grow up and play his baseball in New Jersey...so he does get credit for that strength. ;)

But seriously there have been very few legitimate 5 tool stars in the history of baseball, and Willie Mays probably tops that list.

 

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1 hour ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

I think you "kind of" answered your own question ... those Giants teams were at least the equals of the Dodgers and Cardinals, the other two great NL teams of the '60s. In fact, you can easily argue that they were better than the Dodgers offensively, and only a slight bit below the Dodgers in pitching. Same with the Cardinals. However, the Dodgers and the Cardinals both had more speed, so maybe that's a factor.

And Marichal was the winningest pitcher of the 1960s. (Koufax retired mid-decade). The Giants were a great team in the 1960s but maybe not as deep as the Dodgers. Candlestick Park was brutal to play in, I understand, or else Mays would have hit even more home runs!

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20 minutes ago, DaveO said:

Yes:  Mays was exemplary in all 5 qualities.....or Yes: Trout is a legitimate 5 tool player?  

Per these comments Trout's arm is not as bazooka-ish as that of Mays or other Roberto Clemente type of outfielders....and Trout does play left field, not Right, where the bazooka arms seem to migrate and gain fame.

Yes to both.

Trout's arm is not a cannon, but it's accurate. Still, he gets to first base in 3.5 seconds as a right-handed batter, and is outstanding defensively (he plays center-field, not left). And oh my goodness, can he run.

Talk to me in 10 years, but so far, I've never seen anyone do the things that Mike Trout does on a baseball field.

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2 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

One of the few quirks of that era, along with the late '60s Cubs. As in -- how can a team with so many stars never win a championship?

In the Cubs' case, they had Hall-of-Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams -- and NEVER MADE THE POST SEASON!!!

Per this obscure list we see that the San Fran Giants had a winning record every year from 60-69...but they were also rans in the in the NL pennant race most years.  Must have been the competition.   Blame a large part of it on Koufax and Drysdale. ;)

15 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Yes to both.

Trout's arm is not a cannon, but it's accurate. Still, he gets to first base in 3.5 seconds as a right-handed batter, and is outstanding defensively (he plays center-field, not left). And oh my goodness, can he run.

Talk to me in 10 years, but so far, I've never seen anyone do the things that Mike Trout does on a baseball field.

Accurate arm, 3.5 seconds to first base...impressive.  BUT...Mays owned a bazooka, one of the reasons he ranks historically so favorably.    But as you say give Trout 10 years.  Hopefully  he'll continue at his remarkable pace!!!!!

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On 4/1/2016 at 5:50 PM, DonRocks said:

Ted Williams is the only person who can claim - along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb - to be the greatest hitter who ever lived.

Here are some statistics which are so mind-boggling that they simply do not compute:

* Williams had a lifetime batting average of .344 - the highest of any player with more than 302 home runs.

* Williams had 521 home runs.

* Williams missed 3 seasons in the prime of his career due to WWII. The three years before, he batted .344, .406 and .356; the three years after, he batted .342, .343, and .369.

* Missing those 3 seasons cost him at least 100 home runs - he would have hit 625 for his career.

* Even more remarkable than the above? His *career* on-base percentage was .482. That is not a misprint.

* Perhaps even *more* remarkable? Not once did he ever have 200 hits in a season. See for yourselves. How can that be? I guess it's because he walked so much (he had 20-12 vision). There are *three people* on that list of *525-different 200-hit seasons* named Williams, none of which is Ted.

* If Williams had played 20 years earlier, I might be able to comprehend these numbers, but he was a *generation* after the big-numbers hitters of the 1920s.

* His batting average, his home runs, and his walks - in my mind - make him a perfectly legitimate choice for the moniker: Greatest Hitter of All-Time.

Dear friend, Don. 

I admire your championing of the "Splendid Splinter." Your analysis of Mr. Williams's accomplishments at the plate (ahem) are good. Those data drove in a run, for me. I looked at a guy who was a youngster when Mr. Williams's career (1939-60) was in the inevitable decline that comes with age. Mr. Williams saw the arrival of young stars, including African Americans, in The Bigs. One of them was Willie Mays

• Lifetime batting average  of .302
• Career hits totaled 3,283
• Career home runs were 660 (20% of his hits)
• Runs batted in were  1,903 (i.e., ~58% of the time when there were ducks on the pond)
• On-Base Percentage was .384
• Slugging percentage was .557
• Career Onbase + Slugging was = 9.41

Mr. Mays lost two seasons (1952-53) while serving in the US Army. So, Let’s just add 100/year to his hits and 25/year to his homers  (conservatively because he had 40-50 dingers when he rejoined the Giants in 54 and 55) for when he was playing for the army, giving him 710 for his career. 

Now, your focus (as I understand) was batting. I get it. Let me just toss into the discussion that base-running and fielding (among other factors) are pretty important, too. 

So, If I get to create a team and I get the first pick, I'll take Mays (unless Trout continues on his current trajectory!). 

Giggles--JohnL

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21 minutes ago, johnl said:

Your analysis of Mr. Williams's accomplishments at the plate (ahem) are good.

Ha! I haven't seen such a subtle criticism in awhile - well-played.

I only said Williams was possibly the greatest hitter ever to live; not the best player. Similar to how I claim Robinson was the greatest defender ever to live; not the best player. I think a lot of people would take Mays as their #1 all-time draft pick.

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I also want to add that Mr. Williams is cited as the author of one of my favorite quotes: "If you don't think too good, don't think too much." 

While researching this quote, I came upon another aphorism from Mr. Williams. It's particularly relevant to this sub-thread: "They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays."

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Interesting comments above.  My baseball nerdiness led to the discovery that Ted Williams lost 3 full seasons to military service in WWII and parts of 2 seasons to service in the Korean War.   He was dedicated to service.   Mays lost one full season and a portion of a second season to service during the Korean War, and Stan Musial lost one season to service during WWII.  All of them would have added considerably to their already astonishing aggregate totals for offensive statistics:  Williams, by far the most. 

Then I meandered over to take a look at the all time "hits leaders"...and with two additional seasons Mays' totals for hits, RBI's and HR's would have crowded the aggregate totals of Hank Aaron.  Ted Williams would have added very significant totals to HR's RBI's OBS and OBS+ totals.  Oh my.   When looking at the all time hits totals leaders I noticed that long time Oriole First Baseman Eddie Murray ranks 12th.  Wow!  I had no idea his career totals were so high.  Eddie Murray was a solid hitter and one of the all time great Orioles.

Whenever I think of Eddie Murray I think of a first baseman who surpassed him in hitting achievements, Albert Pujols.   During his first decade in St Louis, (the decade of the 2000's) Pujols arguably compiled the greatest record of any hitter in baseball over his first 10 years of hitting.  It was extraordinary as per this article

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