Willie Howard Mays Jr., otherwise known as “The Say Hey Kid,” is an American former baseball player from Alabama. His MLB career spanned 200 seasons, most of which he spent playing
center fielder for the New York Giants/San Francisco Giants. In the last run of his career, he played for the New York Mets.
Mays was exposed to baseball at an early age, playing catch with his father, who was a former semi-professional baseball player, and often sitting on the bench watching his father play.
Mays started his professional baseball career playing briefly for a Negro minor league team and then, later, the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. Several MLB teams, such as The Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers, wanted to sign Mays, but he eventually joined the Giants instead in 1951.
After joining the Giants, Mays was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award and also took two years off to join the U.S. military during the Korean War. During his career, Mays won the National League Most Valuable Player award and by 1955, led the NL with 51 home runs.
As evidenced by his record-12 Gold Gloves, Mays is regarded as one of the best outfields of all times. Throughout his career, he was chosen for 24 All-Star Games, inducted into the MLB All-Century Team in 99’, and came in second on the “100 Greatest Baseball Players” list by The Sporting News. In 2015 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.