Willie Mays, the "say hey kid", turns 80 today. It is not an exaggeration to call him the greatest baseball player of all time. And certainly one of the classiest.
On afternoon back in May of 1964, I was sitting in a grade school classroom, when my Father showed up. He told my teacher that I had a dentist appointment, and took me out of class. But he didn't take me to the dentist. Instead, we went to Candlestick Park, where my Dad got us center field bleacher seats. My first baseball game. Dad told me to watch Willie, as he was (according to Dad) "the greatest ballplayer you'll ever see." 47 years later, Dad was still right. I've never seen another player who's as good at every facet of the game. Willie Mays remains the greatest baseball player I've ever seen.
If you doubt me, take a look at the Willie Mays page at Baseball Reference. Other players may have been better at one part of the game or another. But Willie was among the best at hitting, power, speed, fielding, and throwing of all time. He was the complete package.
So, Happy Birthday, Willie. Thank you for letting me watch, and learn to appreciate, the greatness of baseball.