Willie Mays became a Met on this date.

He was supposed to be a Giant forever, but on this day in 1972, San Francisco traded Willie Mays to the Mets for future trivia question answer, pitcher Charlie Williams, and $50,000.

MAYS: Playing stickball is how some will always remember him.

The trade was full circle for Mays, who returned to the city where he began his Hall of Fame 21 years before.

Mays showed few glimpses of greatness with the Mets. They were scarce and he looked old in the 1973 World Series. Still, he was still Willie Mays and he carried an aura about him. He was an electric player, in the field, on the bases and at-bat. And, even in those last games there was always the hope he’d provide one more memory.

Mays did not have the longevity in New York as Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider or Joe DiMaggio, but will always be linked to the city, and as they talk of his catch off Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series in the Polo Grounds against Cleveland, they also speak of him playing stickball with kids in the streets.

Mays finished with 660 home runs, but missed nearly two years at the beginning of his career to serve in the military. Had he played those seasons, there’s no telling how close he would have come to Babe Ruth. The numbers were staggering regardless as he played in that wind tunnel known as Candlestick Park. (For the record, Mays hit .298 with 39 homers and 106 RBI lifetime against the Mets).

Much to my regret, I never saw Mays play in person. I saw Mantle, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente from his era, but never Mays. Television never did him justice. I do know, however, had I had that opportunity, I wouldn’t have taken my eyes off him the entire game.

He was that special a player. I hope you’ll share your special memories of Mays with me.

7 thoughts on “Willie Mays became a Met on this date.

  1. we gave up nobody to get him so whatever he gave us was more then what we gave to SF. The idea that fans of my age got to see him on a semi regular basis was worth it.

  2. He was second on the team in 1972 in BA, OBA and SLG which shows you how weak that team was. That 1972 team got off to a great start but then the injuries hit.

    In some ways a game that he played at Shea as a member of the home team showed off his skills. Not with the Mets but with the All Star game in 1964. Leading off the bottom of the ninth down 4-3, he draws a walk of reliever Dick “The Monster” Radatz, steals second, scores on a short pop fly to right (second baseman had to keep close to Mays to prevent him from stealing third) and with an error the batter (Cepeda) goes to second. Johnny Callsion wins it with a three run home rum two batters later (why did Lopez intentionally walk Johnny Edwards?)

    It’s ironic that Stoneham moved the Giants west because of money concerns and fifteen years later he traded away Mays because of
    his contract (which also had an organization job after he retired).

    Not too many Mets have worn “24” since Mays left. Kelvin Torve?

  3. Willie had one of the biggest ABs in Mets World Series history. In the second game of the 1973 Series against the Catfish/Reggie/Charles O. Finley A’s, Willie came to bat with two out in the in the twelfth inning and proceeded knock in the run that put the Mets ahead for good. This was his last hit in the majors, and his second to last plate appearance, but he made it a key one in Mets history.

  4. Just came across this and had to comment.My old man was a big NY Giants fan.We lived near Shea, so we used to go see them when they came to town in the mid to late sixties.Willie was just entering the twilight of his career then, but still a great ballplayer.He and McCovey used to wear out the young Mets, and after all these years watching lots of players, I still say he’s the best 5 tool player I ever saw, even at that point.Can only imagine how good he was in his prime.