MLB world reacts to Willie Mays’ death

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MLB world reacts to Willie Mays’ death


Major League Baseball and San Francisco Giants legend Willie Mays died Tuesday at age 93.

The “Say Hey Kid” performed with a showman’s flair, making basket catches in center field, taking daring chances on the base paths, winning four home run crowns, 12 Gold Glove Awards and laughing with a gleeful high-pitched voice.

Mays spent 21 of his 23 major-league seasons with the Giants organization in New York and San Francisco. He batted .301 with 660 home runs, 339 stolen bases and 3,293 hits and won two National League MVP awards.

Mays left an indelible mark on baseball, sparking many members of the MLB community to pay tribute to him at Tuesday night’s games and on social media.

Quotes and anecdotes around MLB:

Ken Griffey Jr.: “My heart is on the floor,” the Hall of Famer told MLB Network. “I’m just grateful and thankful that I was able to spend the time I had with (Mays) because he is a true giant, on and off the field.”

Aaron Judge: The New York Yankees star outfielder and a California native reflected on meeting Mays.

“I have a family friend that is pretty close with his family,” Judge said. “I got a chance to meet him. He showed me a couple of things about throwing the baseball from the outfield, which I still remember. I have a couple of cool things that are signed in my childhood room still.”

Judge added: “Terrible, terrible news (of his death). I was a big Willie Mays fan. What he meant to the game, California, all of the Giants fans out there, especially me growing up, you wanted to play like Willie and make those catches that he did.

“The numbers he put up on the field and what he did are impressive, but him as a person and human being was even bigger. It was bigger than baseball. He was something special. The baseball world is definitely gonna be missing a great one.”

Mike Yastrzemski: “The things that he did, we’ll never see again,” the Giants outfielder said of Mays’ career. “He was such a talented player and he played the game as purely as anybody could. To be able to watch that on film — I’m glad there was film for it — because it’s something that’s going to be watched and studied for the rest of time.”

GO DEEPER

Giants react to the death of Willie Mays: ‘The things he did we’ll never see again’

Sergio Romo: “Every day he was very willing to give his time, to give his expertise, to give his advice,” Romo, a three-time World Series champion with the Giants, told NBC Sports Bay Area about Mays visiting the club. “He made you feel visible.”

Bruce Bochy: This game allows you to meet some tremendous players and people, and I got to spend a lot of time with Willie during my tenure (in San Francisco) and it’s a sad day,” the former Giants manager and current Texas Rangers manager said. “What a legend he is.”

Billy Owens: The Oakland A’s assistant general manager and a Bay Area native paid tribute to Mays in a text message to The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard.

“Say Hey was EVERYTHING…….Right there with Muhammad Ali as the Greatest,” Owens said. “The Excellence was Documented. The Style can never be duplicated. His power, speed and grace forever unique. The catch still captured the imagination almost a century later. Willie was New York(Polo Grounds) and San Francisco(Candlestick Park). I’ll watch Rickwood Field(Birmingham) this week and imagine Willie doing basket catches in Center Field and hitting homers into the Stratosphere. RIP Say Hey Willie Mays.”

Steven Kwan: The Cleveland Guardians outfielder and a Bay Area native said, “(Mays) was the face of the Giants. It was him and Barry Bonds and they would always be together. You’d see them talking. You wished you could be a fly on the wall for those conversations.”

Stephen Vogt: Cleveland Guardians manager Stephen Vogt’s grandfather lived in Oklahoma, and there were no MLB teams nearby. He chose the New York Giants as his team, mostly because he hated the Yankees and Dodgers. He loved watching Mays, and he’d prattle on and on about the center fielder to his son, Randy.

The Giants relocated to San Francisco in 1958 when Randy was three years old. The Giants became his team, and Mays was Randy’s hero. The family visited Candlestick Park every year.

Stephen grew up a Giants fan, too. The Vogts had season tickets in the upper deck down the left-field line. Stephen signed with San Francisco for the 2019 season. That spring, he met Mays. The two chatted in the clubhouse and took a picture together. Randy framed that photo, which sits on a shelf in his office.

“One of the people who was a god to you,” Vogt said of Mays. “It was just this unfathomable figure. You never really saw him on TV, (just) highlights. It was really cool to meet him and then get a chance to chat with him.”

Harold Reynolds: “Willie was like a father to all of us,” the former Seattle Mariners second baseman told MLB Network. “He was from that generation that was passing it on. … He had advice for you on every aspect of your life.”

Craig Counsell: “I’m saddened by the news about Willie Mays,” the Chicago Cubs manager said. “This is one of the Mt. Rushmore of baseball players in my opinion. A legend in our game. I got to meet him a couple times. He was the kind of person, along with Hank Aaron, that made you nervous because of how great they were. It was sad news to hear during the game today.”

Cody Bellinger: “I saw the news (of Mays’ death) in the seventh inning and was pretty saddened by it. Wearing the number 24 is special. He’s one of the best players in our game. Just seeing him around a few times on the field was a true blessing. An unbelievable guy and best wishes to his family right now.”

Bellinger wears No. 24 with the Cubs, the same jersey number Mays wore with the Giants and the New York Mets.

The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, Melissa Lockard, Zack Meisel and Sahadev Sharma contributed to this story.

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(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)





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