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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Marc Lawrence, — Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Duke Snider were Hall of Famers and the starting center fielders for the three local teams in New York during the 1950s. It’s arguable that Mays, who died Tuesday at 93, might have been the best two-way player of all time. He was a 12-time Gold Glove center fielder with the New York/San Francisco Giants, who belted 660 home runs and led the National League in stolen bases four times. He was the prototypical five-tool player during his legendary MLB career, winning a pair of MVP awards while leading the Giants to the 1954 World Series championship. Mays made one of the most famous defensive plays in baseball history in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against Cleveland. With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth inning and runners on first and second, Cleveland’s Vic Wertz hit a ball deep into center field at the Polo Grounds, a shot estimated at 420 feet. Mays made a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch and fired the ball into second base, preventing a run from scoring. The Giants would get out of the inning without allowing a run and won the game in extra innings. They would go on to sweep the series. Tom Verducci of said that Mays brought an “Unrivaled Style to America’s Stuffy Pastime.” Yeah, the ‘Say Hey Kid’ was that good. RIP, Willie.

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