Willie Mays, Hall Of Fame Slugger And World Series Champion, Dead At 93

Sports icon Willie Mays, one of the greatest baseball players in MLB history, has passed away at 93.

News of Mays’ death was announced on Tuesday evening (June 18) via a joint statement by Mays’ family and the San Francisco Giants. According to Mays’ family, he had died in his sleep earlier that afternoon in the Bay Area, the late slugger’s longtime residence.

“My father has passed away peacefully and among loved ones,” Willie’s son, Michael Mays, said of his father. “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart for the unwavering love you have shown him over the years. You have been his life’s blood.”

Willie Mays visits PS 46 in Harlem, next to the site of the former Polo Grounds, where the new York Giants played before moving to San Francisco in 1958, on Jan. 21, 2011 in New York City. The Giants hadn’t won the World Series since 1954.

Michael Nagle/Getty Images

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also spoke on behalf of the league regarding the passing of Mays, crediting him as a trailblazer and pioneer whose contributions continue to loom large. “All of Major League Baseball is in mourning today as we are gathered at the very ballpark where a career and a legacy like no other began,” Commissioner Manfred said of Mays, affectionately known as the “Say Hey Kid.

“Willie Mays took his all-around brilliance from the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League to the historic Giants franchise. From coast to coast… Willie inspired generations of players and fans as the game grew and truly earned its place as our National Pastime.”

Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays

Bettmann / Contributor

Born in 1931 in Alabama, Mays began his professional career with the Birmingham Barons in the Negro Leagues in 1948. Mays spent one season with the Barons before signing with Major League Baseball franchise the New York Giants in 1950, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951.

Following his World Series victory, Mays’ career would be paused after being drafted into the Korean War, leaving his post with the Giants during the 1952 season. Following his return from overseas, Mays quickly resumed his position as one of the league’s most productive players, earning his first MVP award in 1954 on his way to winning his first and lone World Series of his career.

Willie Mays In New York Giants Uniform

Bettmann / Contributor

Mays played 23 seasons across his time in the major leagues, finishing his career with a .301 batting average and totals of 660 home runs, 3,293 hits, and over 2,000 runs. In addition to being a two-time National League MVP and one of the greatest hitters in the history of the sport, Mays was renowned for his defense, winning 12 Gold Glove Awards for his play in centerfield.

In 1979, Mays, whose number, 24, was retired by the Giants, received a first ballot induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2015, Mays was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was given by former United States President Barack Obama. Mays was the oldest living Hall of Fame baseball player at the time of his death.