Happy 60th Anniversary: Willie Mays makes 'The Catch'
On this date in 1954, Willie Mays made "The Catch."
Sixty years ago today, then-23-year-old New York Giants center fielder Willie Mays made arguably the greatest and certainly the most famous defensive play in baseball history, robbing Vic Wertz of extra bases in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. The play has come to be known as simply "The Catch."
By now we've all seen The Catch countless times and have the images embedded in our memory. But, for you new-to-baseball folks (or those of you who simply want to see it again), here's the play:
The Catch is amazing for three reasons. One, it was an over the shoulder basket catch, which is difficult anywhere on the field. Two, Mays ran a really long way to get that ball. It was 483 feet to dead center in the Polo Grounds and he caught that ball on the warning track. The video doesn't do the amount of ground Mays covered justice.
And three, the situation. The score was tied 2-2 in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the World Series and there were runners on first and second with one out. If Mays doesn't make that catch, one run definitely scores and probably two runs score, giving the Indians a late-inning lead.
Instead, lead runner Larry Doby had to retreat to second to tag up -- he had already rounded third in anticipation of the ball falling in -- and was only able to advance to third on the play. The trail runner (Al Rosen) stayed at first. The Giants eventually got out of the inning and won the game in extra innings. They went on to win the World Series.
Mays' catch is one of the most iconic moments in baseball history. Defensive plays, offensive plays, you name it. The Catch is an all-timer.
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