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Willie Mays (04:37)


Mays is one of the greatest baseball players of all time and also changed the game. He came to Major League Baseball from the Negro League and was often quiet on race issues.

Mays' Childhood (03:30)

Mays began playing baseball at age five in Fairfield, Alabama. His father was on the steel mill's semipro baseball team. It was the height of Jim Crow in the South and black players played in the Negro League.

Mays' Early Baseball Career (04:32)

Mays began playing for the Birmingham Black Barons while still in high school. Manger Piper Davis, shortstop Artie Wilson, and pitcher Bill Greason helped him develop as a player. He helped the team win the championship in 1948.

Mays and the End of the Negro League (03:21)

Jackie Robinson integrated baseball in 1947; the Dodgers carefully crafted his image. The MLB poached the best Negro League players, including Mays, essentially ending the league.

Mays on the Giants (06:32)

New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham signed Mays. Mays joined the Giants' minor league team and was the only black player. Leo Durocher brought Mays to the big league when Mays was 20.

Mays in the Army (02:23)

Mays had an incredibly successful rookie season with the Giants in 1951. The military drafted him into the Army in 1952 and he played to entertain troops serving in the Korean War. During that time, Mays introduced the basket catch.

Mays in Harlem (03:37)

Mays returned to his home in Harlem and the Giants in 1954. He spent time in nightclubs and pool halls, including the Red Rooster. He was a celebrity in the neighborhood and played stickball with kids every morning.

Mays' Stardom (06:57)

Mays became a popular player because of his skill and love of the game. In 1954, he made his famous over the head catch during the first game of the World Series. Baseball grew in popularity when television was in its infancy.

Mays in San Francisco (07:01)

In 1958, Stoneham moved the Giants to San Francisco. Mays faced new racial discrimination and was the backup centerfielder to Joe DiMaggio. He could not buy a house he could afford because the neighborhood did not want black people living there.

Mays in Candlestick Park (02:52)

The joy Mays brought to the game won over fans in San Francisco. The Giants' new stadium, Candlestick Park, opened in 1960. The high winds in the stadium hurt Mays hitting ability.

Mays in Puerto Rico (01:52)

In the winter of 1954, Mays played baseball in Puerto Rico. Players often went for extra practice, and it brought Caribbean players to America. The Giants had multiple Puerto Rican and Dominican players.

Mays as Captain (06:46)

Giants Manager Alvin Dark made Mays a captain and gave him power over all field decisions. Mays was a team leader that everyone trusted. In 1962, Mays led the team in homeruns and the Giants went to the World Series.

Mays the Uniter (07:53)

Mays united the team and stopped Latin players from leaving because of Dark's behavior. The Giants had the best road attendance of any team. Mays was good on camera and made television appearances.

Mays and the Civil Rights Movement (07:21)

Mays played in an era when black players were forced to "shut up and play." By 1968, multiple black athletes became part of the Civil Rights Movement. Mays faced criticism for remaining silent.

The Next Willie Mays (04:32)

Experts theorized every young outstanding outfielder was "the next Willie Mays." Mays made an effort to mentor all of them, including Bobby Bonds. Mays became the godfather to Bonds' son Barry.

Mays to the Mets (09:38)

With the Giants' attendance dropping, the team traded Mays, their highest-paid player, to the New York Mets. Mays was happy to be back in New York after his time in California. The Mets went to the World Series in 1973, which was Mays final season.

Mays and Barry Bonds (08:47)

Mays signed a lifetime contract with the Giants in 1992. He helped them sign Barry Bonds in 1993, who stayed on the Giants for 15 years.

Mays' Legacy (03:06)

People continue to honor Mays' baseball knowledge and skills. He established the Say Hey Foundation that funds baseball programs in Alabama. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

Credits: "Say Hey, Willie Mays!" (02:40)

Credits: "Say Hey, Willie Mays!"

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Say Hey, Willie Mays!

3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



Willie Mays’ life is a beacon of the “American Dream,” intersecting with a transformative era of the Black American experience. Mays transfixed fans from coast to coast with his style, jubilant persona and contagious smile, and helped to erode racial barriers and move the sport of baseball, and the American dialog, forward. This documentary follows Mays’ life both on and off the field over five decades as he navigated the American sports landscape and the country’s ever-evolving cultural backdrop, all while helping to define what it means to be one of America’s first Black sports superstars. He left an indelible mark in New York City and San Francisco, building a love affair with both cities’ fans.

Length: 99 minutes

Item#: BVL284176

Copyright date: ©2022

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.