All posts tagged: Willie Mays

Guitars and Baseball

James Nash once gave some good advice to aspiring guitarists: Rule #1 for learning to play fast:  don’t practice while watching the ball game.  Well, tonight…I’m guilty.  Two hours after starting, I’ve finally put the last instrument back on its stand.  I was watching baseball the entire time. However, I suspect that the San Francisco-based Nash would approve of my choice of ballgame, as the hometown Giants are in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. And while I didn’t get any real practice in tonight, it sure was fun to multitask around two things that I love.  (Note to regular readers:  Candice, who has become a baseball fan this year with the emergence of the Nats, is out-of-town. I wasn’t ignoring her.) I grew up as a Giants fan.  The Braves hadn’t moved to Atlanta, so we didn’t have a MLB team in the South.  And Willie Mays is, to my mind, the most complete player in the history of the game.  He was so much fun to watch as a young kid in …

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

We’ve been blessed with two recent books about the greatest baseball player of all time – Willie Mays.  I wrote about the first, Willie’s Boys, in a post in January.  I’ve just finished the second, Willie Mays:  The Life, The Legend, and found it is as satisfying as a well-played game on a warm summer evening.  (Although at 556 pages it takes a bit longer to complete.) Author James Hirsch, who never saw Mays play live, has nonetheless captured the essence of a deeply private, and in many ways unknowable, larger-than-life legend.   Mays is one of those people who touched so many people in so many ways.  As Hirsch notes, “If you write a book that allows you to talk to Bill Clinton, Woody Allen, Hank Aaron, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sandy Koufax, and Tom Seaver, you’ve probably got a pretty good subject.”  Bill Clinton says that Willie Mays, “…lives his life with more than talent – he has the mind and heart of a champion.”  Woody Allen, in the movie Manhattan, said Willie Mays was one …

Willie Mays and America’s Oldest Professional Baseball Park

Growing up, I was such a Willie Mays fan that my friends called me “Say Hey” in honor of the Say Hey Kid.  In those pre-Internet days it was tough to live in Tennessee and keep up with late-night baseball in San Francisco.  However, many was the summer morning I called the sports department of the Daily News Journal to ask for the previous evening’s scores off the wire.  This was serious business.  Many years and games later, I still believe Mays was the best, most complete ballplayer to play the game. So I was thrilled recently to see the new book Willie’s Boys:  The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, the Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend by John Klima.  The title tells what’s in store.  This is a book about the difficult period when major league baseball was undergoing integration and Birmingham – that hotbed of both baseball and racial segregation – was at the center of the story.  In 1948, Mays was a 16-year-old rookie on the Black …