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Saturday, May 05, 2001

In Willie’s time, he was No. 1

There are a series of articles about Willie Mays on ESPN. Here’s my favorite, written by my favorite columnist, Rob Neyer.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 05, 2001 at 03:27 PM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 06, 2001 at 12:18 AM (#67397)
Rob Neyer has written some excellent articles this week. This one on Mays, along with his recent piece on Barry Bonds and hitters who have struggled in the post-season, have really been terrific and insightful. Well done, Rob.

Of all the players I've had a chance to see play from the late sixties to the current day, Mays was simply the best. He simply had no flaw in his game--offensively, defensively, and on the basepaths--and was the rare kind of offensive player that could have batted anywhere in the lineup--leadoff, third, cleanup, fifth, whatever--and done an exceptional job.

Although Mays was both a feared power hitter and a brilliant center fielder, I guess I remember him most for the dynamic way that he ran the bases. Once he reached base, he always shed his helmet and wore the soft cap, which he usually ran out from underneath while going first to third or running out an extra-base hit. I just wish I was a little older when I had seen him play, so that I could have appreciated his stylish enthusiasm even more.
   2. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 06, 2001 at 12:18 AM (#68183)
Rob Neyer has written some excellent articles this week. This one on Mays, along with his recent piece on Barry Bonds and hitters who have struggled in the post-season, have really been terrific and insightful. Well done, Rob.

Of all the players I've had a chance to see play from the late sixties to the current day, Mays was simply the best. He simply had no flaw in his game--offensively, defensively, and on the basepaths--and was the rare kind of offensive player that could have batted anywhere in the lineup--leadoff, third, cleanup, fifth, whatever--and done an exceptional job.

Although Mays was both a feared power hitter and a brilliant center fielder, I guess I remember him most for the dynamic way that he ran the bases. Once he reached base, he always shed his helmet and wore the soft cap, which he usually ran out from underneath while going first to third or running out an extra-base hit. I just wish I was a little older when I had seen him play, so that I could have appreciated his stylish enthusiasm even more.
   3. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 06, 2001 at 12:18 AM (#68457)
Rob Neyer has written some excellent articles this week. This one on Mays, along with his recent piece on Barry Bonds and hitters who have struggled in the post-season, have really been terrific and insightful. Well done, Rob.

Of all the players I've had a chance to see play from the late sixties to the current day, Mays was simply the best. He simply had no flaw in his game--offensively, defensively, and on the basepaths--and was the rare kind of offensive player that could have batted anywhere in the lineup--leadoff, third, cleanup, fifth, whatever--and done an exceptional job.

Although Mays was both a feared power hitter and a brilliant center fielder, I guess I remember him most for the dynamic way that he ran the bases. Once he reached base, he always shed his helmet and wore the soft cap, which he usually ran out from underneath while going first to third or running out an extra-base hit. I just wish I was a little older when I had seen him play, so that I could have appreciated his stylish enthusiasm even more.
   4. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 07, 2001 at 08:11 PM (#67401)
Another well-done article by Neyer that I failed to mention previously was the one he wrote about the newfangled pitching machine that is now being used. I haven't seen any other reference to this pitching machine anywhere else on the internet, or in print sources, for that matter. Based on the article, I would hope that most other major league teams would have one of these machines in use within the next couple of seasons.
   5. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 07, 2001 at 08:11 PM (#68187)
Another well-done article by Neyer that I failed to mention previously was the one he wrote about the newfangled pitching machine that is now being used. I haven't seen any other reference to this pitching machine anywhere else on the internet, or in print sources, for that matter. Based on the article, I would hope that most other major league teams would have one of these machines in use within the next couple of seasons.
   6. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 07, 2001 at 08:11 PM (#68461)
Another well-done article by Neyer that I failed to mention previously was the one he wrote about the newfangled pitching machine that is now being used. I haven't seen any other reference to this pitching machine anywhere else on the internet, or in print sources, for that matter. Based on the article, I would hope that most other major league teams would have one of these machines in use within the next couple of seasons.
   7. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 08, 2001 at 12:38 PM (#67403)
Dean, everything you write is true, but it's Apples v. Oranges. Nobody back then ever said Dimaggio (or Musial) was a better HITTER than T. Ballgame (who could?), only a better overall PLAYER. And they were right. The distinction seems to elude some people.

As for Mays' lower walk totals, might this not have a little to do with who was following him in the lineup, at least in New York? As for the white ump/ black player theory, why doesn't someone just ask Mays? It may be true, but it is also true that many players (Williams; Frank Thomas) simply value walks more than other players, and also have a very strict standard as to what kind of pitch they should swing at. Mays may simply have been more of a free swinger than Mantle.

As for whether Mays or Mantle was considered the better overall player back then, I think if you look back you'd find the consensus on this shifted back and forth several times--Mays in 1954, Mantle in 1956, Mays in 1959, Mantle in 1961, Mays in 1965. Since then, I would say the statheads have pretty much clinched the argument that Mantle was better at his peak, but since that peak was so much shorter than Mays' (and Aaron's, who had the longest peak of them all), Mays' career value is rated higher. As James says. (It's like quoting the Bible, isn't it?)
   8. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 08, 2001 at 12:38 PM (#68189)
Dean, everything you write is true, but it's Apples v. Oranges. Nobody back then ever said Dimaggio (or Musial) was a better HITTER than T. Ballgame (who could?), only a better overall PLAYER. And they were right. The distinction seems to elude some people.

As for Mays' lower walk totals, might this not have a little to do with who was following him in the lineup, at least in New York? As for the white ump/ black player theory, why doesn't someone just ask Mays? It may be true, but it is also true that many players (Williams; Frank Thomas) simply value walks more than other players, and also have a very strict standard as to what kind of pitch they should swing at. Mays may simply have been more of a free swinger than Mantle.

As for whether Mays or Mantle was considered the better overall player back then, I think if you look back you'd find the consensus on this shifted back and forth several times--Mays in 1954, Mantle in 1956, Mays in 1959, Mantle in 1961, Mays in 1965. Since then, I would say the statheads have pretty much clinched the argument that Mantle was better at his peak, but since that peak was so much shorter than Mays' (and Aaron's, who had the longest peak of them all), Mays' career value is rated higher. As James says. (It's like quoting the Bible, isn't it?)
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 08, 2001 at 12:38 PM (#68463)
Dean, everything you write is true, but it's Apples v. Oranges. Nobody back then ever said Dimaggio (or Musial) was a better HITTER than T. Ballgame (who could?), only a better overall PLAYER. And they were right. The distinction seems to elude some people.

As for Mays' lower walk totals, might this not have a little to do with who was following him in the lineup, at least in New York? As for the white ump/ black player theory, why doesn't someone just ask Mays? It may be true, but it is also true that many players (Williams; Frank Thomas) simply value walks more than other players, and also have a very strict standard as to what kind of pitch they should swing at. Mays may simply have been more of a free swinger than Mantle.

As for whether Mays or Mantle was considered the better overall player back then, I think if you look back you'd find the consensus on this shifted back and forth several times--Mays in 1954, Mantle in 1956, Mays in 1959, Mantle in 1961, Mays in 1965. Since then, I would say the statheads have pretty much clinched the argument that Mantle was better at his peak, but since that peak was so much shorter than Mays' (and Aaron's, who had the longest peak of them all), Mays' career value is rated higher. As James says. (It's like quoting the Bible, isn't it?)

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