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Well, with Willie Mays you can say I have Center Field covered from the left foul line to the right. I don't believe I have ever seen or heard of anyone who played the outfield with as much ease as Willie Mays. He made the incredible look easy. When asked about making history Willie replied "I don't make history, I catch fly balls" and catch fly balls he did.
His patented basket catches in the outfield caused some to say he was show boating, but Willie explained his job was to hold the runners on the base. By catching the ball at his waist with his glove turned upward Willie said he could "get the ball back into the infield faster" this way. Well I certainly wouldn't want to be the one to argue with Willie Mays on the best way to play outfield. Twice in his career he caught the ball with his bare hand, once against Rocky Nelson and again a few years later against Reberto Clemente.
You would be foolish to field an outfielder based on his defensive skills alone. With Willie Mays that was not a problem at all, he matched his defensive skills nicely with his ability to hit a round moving ball with a cylinder stick with the best of them. At the plate he did it all, he hit for average, power, and drove in runs. You can't ask for more than that.
Willie Mays has also been said to have made the greatest catch in all of history which is known simply as "The Catch." With the score tied 2 - 2 in the first game of the 1954 World Series, Cleveland Slugger Vic Wertz drove a ball deep into straight away center. Willie ran straight back, catching the ball over his head while in a full speed stride, turned and threw to home from 440 feet away keeping the runner from scoring. An amazing feat that has stood the test of time.
Check out Willie Mays's stats and see why I have him batting 3rd and covering center field.
last updated 09/20/02