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Happy Birthday, Willie Mays

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

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May 6 is a fun day in Major League Baseball history. Last year, we recognized the then-15th Anniversary of Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game.

A few other May 6th events:

•1915: Babe Ruth hits his first career home run.

1953: Bobo Holloman throws a no-hitter in his first career start.

•2005: Trevor Hoffman becomes the third man in history with 400 saves (after Lee Smith and John Franco).

•2007: The Yankees announce that Roger Clemens is returning for one last season (and $28 million).

•2012: The Orioles outlast the Red Sox in 17 innings, with DH Chris Davis getting the win and OF Darnell McDonald taking the loss.

For now, though, we'll spotlight the fact that one of baseball's truly immortal players was born on this date. It was May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Alabama that Willie Howard Mays was born.

It would be just over 20 years later that Willie Mays debuted with the New York Giants. He'd play in nearly 3,000 games in 22 seasons, hitting .302/.384/.557 (156 OPS+) with 523 doubles, 140 triples, 660 homers, 1903 RBI, 2062 runs and 338 steals. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1951, the MVP in 1954 and again 1965 while finished in the top 10 of MVP voting nine times.

The 20-time All-Star and 12-time Gold Glover won one World Series ring and played in the Fall Classic four times. He is, of course, now in the Hall of Fame.

But it wasn't just about the the numbers or accolades with Mays. It was the infectious, "Say Hey" attitude. It was the power-speed combo. It was the grace. It was the stories passed down from generation to generation among baseball-loving families. It was plays like this:

And so, so much more.

Thank you for helping to make the game what it is today, Mr. Mays. While we're at it, Happy 83rd Birthday. Say Hey!

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