MLB legend Willie Mays revealed heartbreaking statement about missing game in his honor just hours before death at 93

MLB legend Willie Mays revealed heartbreaking statement about missing game in his honor just hours before death at 93

BASEBALL legend Willie Mays spoke about the MLB game he was set to be honored at this Thursday just hours before his death.

Mays, known as the Say Hey Kid, died on Tuesday at age 93.

Legendary MLB player Willie Mays died on Tuesday at age 93AP:Associated Press

GettyMays was the oldest living Hall of Famer[/caption]

Mays began his MLB career in 1950Getty Images – Getty

Mays played for just two teams during his career and spent the majority with the Giants organizationReuters

News of Mays’ death was initially announced by the San Francisco Giants organization, for whom the Hall of Famer played most of his baseball career.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 93,” the Giants’ statement read.

A cause of death has not been revealed.

Mays was set to be honored, along with the Negro Leagues, at a game between the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday.

America’s oldest baseball park, Rickwood Field is home to the Birmingham Black Barons, the team with which Mays began his baseball career.

But the 24-time All-Star confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, just hours before his death, that he would not be in attendance.

“I’m not able to get to Birmingham this year but will follow the game back here in the Bay Area,” Mays said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

“My heart will be with all of you who are honoring the Negro League ballplayers, who should always be remembered, including all my teammates on the Black Barons.

“I wanted to thank Major League Baseball, the Giants, the Cardinals and all the fans who’ll be at Rickwood or watching the game.

“It’ll be a special day, and I hope the kids will enjoy it and be inspired by it.”

Mays also shared a statement with the Giants on Monday, recalling his time playing at Rickwood Field.

“The first big thing I ever put my mind to was to play at Rickwood Field. It wasn’t a dream. It was something I was going to do,” the statement read in part.

“That’s what I did. It was my start. My first job. You never forget that.”

Mays said that while he would’ve liked to be there, he doesn’t “move as well” as he used to and planned to watch from home.

Still, he was thrilled at the prospect of “letting everyone get to see pro ball at Rickwood Field.”

“All these years and it is still here. So am I. How about that?”

Mays’ death was announced just hours later.

STORIED CAREER

Born on May 6, 1931, Mays was an Alabama native whose baseball career began in 1948 with the Black Barons.

He was just 17 years old at the time.

Mays helped the team reach the Negro League World Series in his debut season.

The Giants organization, based in New York at the time, heard about Mays and his talent and bought his contract from the Birmingham team in 1950.

After spending time with the Giants’ minor league affiliates, he was called up to the majors in May 1951.

All these years and it is still here. So am I. How about that?

Willie Maysspeaking of Rickwood Field on Monday

Mays became the tenth Black player in MLB history.

He went on to win the 1954 World Series with the Giants.

Throughout his storied career with the Giants and later the New York Mets, Mays amassed a resume that included the 1951 National League Rookie of the Year award, two National League MVP awards, 12 Gold Gloves, and two All-Star Game MVP awards.

After retiring from baseball in 1973, Mays was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979.

Mays finished his career with 660 home runs, a batting average of over .300, and 3,293 hits.

Mays became the tenth Black player in MLB historyAP:Associated Press

Willie Mays played for the Giants for nearly his entire careerGetty Images – Getty

‘CHANGED THE GAME FOREVER’

Tributes instantly began pouring in for Mays after word of his death spread.

Barry Bonds, Mays’ godson and fellow Giants legend, shared a photo on his Instagram.

“I am beyond devastated and overcome with emotion,” Bonds began.

“I have no words to describe what you mean to me- you helped shape me to be who I am today. Thank you for being my Godfather and always being there. Give my dad a hug for me.

“Rest in peace Willie, I love you forever.”

You changed the game forever and inspired kids like me to chase our dream.

CC Sabathiaformer New York Yankees pitcher

Along with MLB and the Giants organization, dozens of fellow baseball players shared tributes to Mays on social media.

“I’m just grateful and thankful that I was able to spend the time I had with him because he is a true giant, on and off the field,” Ken Griffey Jr. told MLB Network.

“RIP Willie Mays. You changed the game forever and inspired kids like me to chase our dream. Thank you for everything that you did on and off the field. Always in our hearts,” longtime New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia wrote on X.

Several baseball broadcasters who were live on air were choked up having to share the news with listeners.

Dave Flemming, the play-by-play announcer for the Giants, was “having a hard time” delivering the news to fans during the team’s matchup against the Chicago Cubs.

Elsewhere, former major leaguer Keith Hernandez was fighting tears in the booth for the Mets while recalling his interactions with Mays.

“I got to tell him he was the greatest player I ever saw,” a choked-up Hernandez said.

But Mays also touched hearts beyond the ballfield.

I got to tell him he was the greatest player I ever saw.

Keith Hernandezformer MLB player

Former president Barack Obama shared a heartfelt tribute on X.

“Willie Mays wasn’t just a singular athlete, blessed with an unmatched combination of grace, skill and power. He was also a wonderfully warm and generous person – and an inspiration to an entire generation,” Obama wrote.

“I’m lucky to have spent time with him over the years, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family.”

Tennis legend Billie Jean King recalled being honored alongside Mays in 2010.

“It was a privilege to know him. We were both honored by
@MLB in 2010 with the Beacon Award, given to civil rights pioneers,” she wrote on X.

“He was such a kind soul, who gifted my brother Randy a new glove and a television during his rookie year with the @SFGiants. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed.”

NBA star Earvin Magic Johnson also shared his condolences.

“I’m devastated to hear about the passing of the legendary Hall of Famer Willie Mays, one of the main reasons I fell in love with baseball. Cookie and I are praying for his family, friends, and fans during this difficult time,” Johnson wrote on X.

Mays was set to be honored on Thursday at Rickwood FieldMLB

Mays died at 93 years oldAP:Associated Press

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