Monday, May 4, 2015
"Say Hey Willie" - The Treniers w/ Willie Mays (1954)
Today is the 50th anniversary of Willie Mays 512th homerun. It should come as no surprise that he did this just 2 days before his 34th birthday as May seems to have been a significant month for the man some called “the Say Hey Kid.”
In addition to the two highlights of having been born in the merry month of May; and hitting that legendary homerun; which I remember making headlines; May is also the month in which he first became a Major League player. On May 25th, 1951 he became a member of the New York Giants; and except for a 2 year stint with the Army during the Korean War; he saw no combat, serving in Fort Eustis; he would remain with them even making the move to San Francisco in 1958. He played with them until 1972 when he came “home” to New York and the Mets.
Born in Alabama, his father played for the company team where he worked, and his love of sports was not lost on young Willie. He played multiple sports in High School before playing in the Negro Minor League for such teams as the Chattanooga Choo Choos and the Birmingham Black Barons. His team even made it to the Negro League World Series in 1948, due in a large part to his efforts.
But it’s his May 4, 1965 homerun which I will always remember. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I have a sense of history. When the game was being played that day I was aware; as were most kids my age; that Willie stood a chance at breaking a record. And break one he did; hitting his 512th homer, breaking Mel Ott’s record. He would go on to finish his career with a very impressive 660 homers; putting him in 3rd place for most homers, last time I checked…
This record is one of many which came out about him during his career. My favorite was by a local group out of San Francisco called “The Amazing Willie Mays”, which I have been unable to locate anywhere. But the recording above should give you a good idea of the excitement which Willie Mays generated wherever he went. He was ; after all is said and done; one of the greats of baseball. And yes, that is Willie Mays performing on the recording with the Treniers.