Remembering Willie Mays: Baseball’s Ultimate Five-Tool Player


We are fortunate to live in an era where we can witness greats in their fields, albeit without the giants of history. Despite this, professional sports still permits us to encounter legends in our lifetimes. One such transcendent giant, Willie Mays, left us on June 18 at the age of 93.

Considered by many the greatest baseball player of all time, Willie Mays was a master of the five tools: hitting, power, base running, defense, and arm. While other players may have excelled in individual skills, Mays’s combination of abilities made him the ultimate five-tool player. For this reason, young baseball enthusiasts across four generations knew Mays as the model to emulate. Ken Griffey Jr., Reggie Jackson, and Mickey Mantle, though cool in their own right, paled in comparison to the grandeur of Willie Mays.

Born May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama, Willie Howard Mays Jr. was a multi-talented athlete who began his baseball career in 1948 with the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro leagues. After succeeding in the minor leagues, Mays was signed by the New York Giants and made his major league debut in 1951. His powerful bat propelled him to National League Rookie of the Year and helped the Giants win the pennant.

Mays’s career would be interrupted by military service, but his impressive return in 1954 earned him another National League Most Valuable Player award. Throughout his career, Mays amassed an impressive array of accolades, including 24 All-Star Game appearances, 12 Gold Glove Awards, 660 home runs, and numerous batting titles.

Daniel Ross Goodman
Daniel Ross Goodman
Contributor. Daniel Ross Goodman is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Divinity School. He holds a Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, studied English & Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and teaches Jewish thought and theology at St. John's University. He is the author of Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wonder and Religion in American Cinema and the novel A Single Life.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app