Here is my Reds Hall of Fame hilite from the Reds pre-game show from May 6. I have been checking birthdays for possible ideas for each game date and noticed that Willie was born May 6. I figured it didn’t really matter much who else was born that day. But gotta have a Reds connection for the story, and I was going to mention that Willie had won many suits at Crosley Field for hitting the “Hit This Sign, Win a Free Suit,” billboard beyond the left-centerfield wall. Wally Post was the king of the suits (given away by Siebler Tailors in downtown Cincinnati—they are no longer in business), winning about a dozen in his time with the Reds. Mays won the most of any out-of-town player. But doing a little reading on Mays, I found out his dad was born in 1912, and named for the president at the time…and say, hey, I had a hilite.
May 6: There are dozens of major league baseball players born on this day, and no doubt, many future stars will come kicking and screaming into the world on this May 6, but I am here to tell you, it won’t make any difference, because there is only one player’s birthday that matters on May 6 and that is Willie Howard Mays, the great Willie Mays, born on May 6, 1931. A player of such great skills and grace that you don’t even bother to look at the stats. I mean, seriously, when was the last time you ever heard somebody resort to stats to talk about how great Willie Mays was? Mays once pounded a ball into the far reaches of the outfield and someone suggested that the centerfielder might have caught it. Are you kidding, came the response. The only player who could have caught it, just hit it. And that summed up Mays….he could beat you with his bat, and beat you with his glove. So, Happy Birthday, Mr. Mays, and what the heck is a Willie Mays story doing in the Reds Hall of Fame hilites. Well, of course, there is a Cincinnati connection. Willie Howard Mays was named after his father, William Howard Mays, who was named in honor of the 27th president of the United States, Cincinnati native, William Howard Taft. The original Say Hey president…well come on down to the Reds Hall of Fame, and say hey, and discover much more Reds history, at the museum at GABP.
(This photo of Willie and Frank Robinson is from 1958, shot at Crosley Field by Jack Klumpe, who covered the Reds for the Cincinnati Post from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Jack preserved all his negatives and they are now in the archives of the Reds Hall of Fame.)