Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

( 47 )

Overview

Willie Mays is arguably the greatest player in baseball history, still revered for the passion he brought to the game. He began as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, became a cult hero in New York, and was the headliner in Major League Baseball?s bold expansion to California. He was a blend of power, speed, and stylistic bravado that enraptured fans for more than two decades. Now James Hirsch reveals the man behind the player.

Mays was a transcendent figure who received standing ...

See more details below
Paperback
$13.47
BN.com price
(Save 25%)$18.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (64) from $1.99   
  • New (19) from $3.08   
  • Used (45) from $1.99   
Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.11
BN.com price

Overview

Willie Mays is arguably the greatest player in baseball history, still revered for the passion he brought to the game. He began as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, became a cult hero in New York, and was the headliner in Major League Baseball’s bold expansion to California. He was a blend of power, speed, and stylistic bravado that enraptured fans for more than two decades. Now James Hirsch reveals the man behind the player.

Mays was a transcendent figure who received standing ovations in enemy stadiums and who, during the turbulent civil rights era, urged understanding and reconciliation. More than his records, his legacy is defined by the pure joy that he brought to fans and the loving memories that have been passed to future generations so they might know the magic and beauty of the game. With meticulous research and drawing on interviews with Mays himself as well as with close friends, family, and teammates, Hirsch presents a brilliant portrait of one of America’s most significant cultural icons.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Willie Mays had everything—except a first-rate biography. That omission has now been addressed by James S. Hirsch, who has produced a piece of artistry worhty of Mays in center field."—Bloomberg.com

"James Hirsch has written an enormously entertaining and wide-ranging biography—a fitting tribute to Mays . . . and a thoughtful account of the complex and often misunderstood man. . . . True baseball fans will delight in the author's edge-of-seat game reports and picture-perfect descriptions of Mays' superlative talents. . . This is a superb baseball book, but it's also a riveting narrative of Mays' life and times."—Seattle Times

"A terrific new biography . . . [an] always engaging and enlightening book . . . A wonderful introduction to the magical life of one of the finest athletes ever."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Hirsch has produced a masterful biography that has the same freshness and excitement that Mays generated as a player. All the highlights are there in shining, solid detail. It's a must-read for any baseball fan."—Tampa Bay Online

"James S. Hirsch compellingly recounts Mays' career . . . giving even Mays' iconic moments, such as 'The Catch' in the 1954 World Series, a sense of tension as if they were unfolding anew. . . . Great baseball reading, by an accomplished writer . . . about a wondrous ballplayer and man with gifts beyond the diamond."—Associated Press

"The book, documenting Mays’ rise from Negro leagues star to major league icon, also serves as a history lesson."—USA Today

"Tautly written . . . Mr. Hirsch captures Willie’s greatness on the field.”—Wall Street Journal

“Does a better job than any book before of getting at what it means to be Willie Mays.”—Sports Illustrated

Publishers Weekly
The legendary outfielder remains an idol in this starstruck authorized biography. Journalist Hirsch (Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter) makes Mays “the savior” of the floundering Giants franchise, celebrates his “supernatural” power, speed, and fielding chops and his godlike physique; toasts his “innocence and joy,” abstemious lifestyle, and kindness to children; and credits him with stopping a San Francisco race riot with a public service announcement. Hirsch is more restrained about his subject’s darker side, his financial difficulties and his often cold and prickly personality. He barely mentions Mays’s use of amphetamines, which he does not connect to the athlete’s frenetic on-field demeanor and recurrent collapses and hospitalizations for “exhaustion.” Hirsch is more incisive on the racial tensions roiling a fast-integrating baseball during Mays’s career, and on the shift to a faster, more aggressive style of play that Mays helped inaugurate. The author is at his best probing the strategy and mechanics behind Mays’s feats of fielding and baserunning; his detailed exegeses of individual plays, including an epic account of the over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series, reveal just how much art and science went into being Willie Mays. In Hirsch’s admiring portrait, Mays is certainly awe inspiring, but also remote and a bit impersonal. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Although this is an authorized biography, Hirsch (former reporter, New York Times; Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter) performs his task admirably, producing a strong, even important work. Hirsch portrays Mays as a baseball genius and an artist, albeit with imperfections making him capable of mistakes on the diamond and missteps in his personal relationships. Hirsch deftly interweaves biography and baseball tales with historical context, showing changes in the national scene, particularly involving race. Hyperbole only occasionally mars his judgement of Mays, whose feats were truly remarkable. The graceful centerfielder was certainly among the game's most brilliant players, even after nearly two years of military service, returning to the New York Giants for their World Series championship run in 1954. Hirsch's analysis of Mays is astute, with repeated references to startling defensive plays—"The Catch" in the 1954 series being simply the most famous example—and heads-up running on the base paths, and, of course, masterstrokes at the plate. VERDICT Hirsch's biography deserves a place alongside the work by top chroniclers Roger Angell, Bill James, Roger Kahn, and Robert Creamer. Highly recommended for all baseball fans.—R.C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico
Kirkus Reviews
An admiring-at times even worshipful-portrait of one of baseball's greatest players, whose on-field exploits were astonishing but whose inner life remains largely hidden. On the first page, former New York Times and Wall Street Journal reporter Hirsch (Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes, America's Biggest Epidemic, 2006, etc.)-who wrote a bestselling biography of boxer Rubin Carter (Hurricane, 2000)-compares the body of Willie Mays to "Michelangelo's finest work" and notes later that his "best catches seemed to be guided by some divine spirit." Fans of Mays will no doubt applaud such effusions, but they signal that celebration is higher on the author's agenda than critical analysis. Mays's Hall of Fame career was indeed marvelous. Born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1931, he endured the Jim Crow South, thrived on the baseball field and then left for greener outfields. Hirsch discusses how he learned baseball's fundamentals from his father, mastered his unique "basket catch" (in the Army), got the nickname "Say Hey Kid," rocketed through the minors, debuted with the New York Giants in 1951 and quickly became baseball's dominant star and its most exciting player-for decades (he played into his 40s, ending his career with the Mets). The author attends well to those most celebrated Willie moments: "The Throw," "The Catch," the four-homer day, the bare-handed catches, the daring base running, the dramatic hits, the peacemaking during base-brawls. But he also portrays a man who had difficulty with personal relationships and with intimacy-a failed first marriage, a need for pampering managers. Other black athletes-most notably Jackie Robinson-chided Mays for lassitude during thecivil-rights movement, and others wondered why he did not support Curt Flood's lawsuit. But Hirsch remains an apologist, and Mays's 40 years of retirement are relegated to a 30-page epilogue. Well-researched and fluid, but tendentious and tunnel-visioned. Author tour to Birmingham, Ala., Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix area, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis. Agent: Todd Shuster/Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416547914
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 585,255
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

James S. Hirsch is former reporter for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of four nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller. Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter, which was the basis for the film of the same name starring Denzel Washington. Hirsch is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has a master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He lives in the Boston area with his wife, Sheryl, and their children, Amanda and Garrett. Born and raised in St. Louis, he remains a diehard Cardinal fan.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Alabama Roots 9

2 Raised to Succeed 19

3 Supernatural Gifts 28

4 A Mother's Love 35

5 The Black Barons 38

6 The Giants Call 55

7 The Minors 65

8 The Savior Arrives 81

9 Rookie of the Year 97

10 War Stories 142

11 "I'd Play for Free" 163

12 The Catch 185

13 "Ole Mira!" 206

14 A New Archetype 214

15 Jackie, Willie, and All Deliberate Speed 223

16 "Willie Mays Doesn't Need Help from Anyone" 236

17 The End of an Era 247

18 Miraloma Brive 269

19 Welcome to San Francisco 282

20 Black Barnstormers 301

21 Cheers for Khrushchev 307

22 Headwinds 317

23 There's a Feel in the Air 330

24 Acceptance, at Last 346

25 Youth Is Served 378

26 A Man Named Mays 386

27 Befriended by a Banker 398

28 Captain Mays 410

29 The Peacemaker 423

30 A Piece of Willie's Heart 447

31 Milestones and Miseries 456

32 A Doctrine of Brotherhood 469

33 The Wisdom of the Years 477

34 Baseball Royalty 488

35 New York, New York 503

36 The End of a Love Affair 516

Epilogue 533

Author's Note 557

Career Stats 561

Acknowledgments 563

Notes 567

Bibliography 593

Index 599

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2010

    A tough read

    isI gave up on this book after 40 pages. To that point it was mainly about the experience of blacks in baseball before the sport became integrated, with a tidbit about Willie Mays added here and there. If you are interested in reading about Willie Mays, good luck wading through these 600 pages.

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    Willies Story

    This book has so many stories told by Willie that I have never read anywhere before. I find it very difficult to put the book down. Anyone who has a love of baseball will love this book. I highly recoomend it for your own reading pleasure or as a gift to a sports-oriented friend or relative.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Good summer baseball read

    As an upper-20's baseball fan I found this book to be very detailed and informative. It quenched my thirst to learn more about Mays during his playing days and especially during the social fabric of America at the time.

    Unless you're without a day job, you won't read this book in a week. It's long, but very good, if you don;t mind spending a couple weeks chipping away over your lunch hour and before bedtime.

    SOLID BOOK and RECOMMENDED!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Living Legend

    Hirsch attention to detail captures Willie's legendary status. His writing style is as fluid and graceful as Willie in his prime. The descriptions of Birmingham in the 40s and 50s was riveting, as was his tracing Willie's ascent through the Negro League and minors--overall a valuable history lesson. Also a great thrill ride through baseball's new golden age into the modern era. Willie's personal story parallels baseball's rise, peak, and the beginning of the decline. Hirsh's description of the end of Willie's playing career is as painful to read as it was to see. Hirsch captures it brilliantly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Truly Great Baseball Book!

    As a true baseball fan and a child of the 60's I loved this book packed with such intricate detail and Willie expressions. The reader gets a great understanding as to Willie the man and why he is so softspoken. Willie's personality somewhat reminded me of how Lou Gerhig was portrayed in Pride of the Yankees.

    Having k...nown practically nothing about Willie's pre-Giant days I really enjoyed tales of how he juggled his high school studies with playing on traveling teams and the Negro Leagues. We learn about Cat Mays who may have been as talented as Willie, but lived in a era where blacks had no opportunity to make the major leagues. Willie's father was away most of his childhood and Willie's mother worked in theaters so Willie was really raised by his aunt.

    In some instances the book literally seems to transport you back in time as you relive events virtually as if they were happening. I feel like I lived through the 51 playoffs and 54 World Series.

    We learn in detail the reason for the Giants move to San Francisco, the big project bust that was Candlestick Park and Joan Payson's crusade to bring Willie back to New York.

    The book is loaded with great tales of such colorful characters as Leo Durocher, Monte Irvin, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda. Willie was not too fond of manager Bill Rigney but seemed to fare better under Alvin Dark. We learn about Willie's tense relationships with people like Yogi Berra and others.

    This book is a "must" for a baseball fan's library and by the time you finish the book you will feel like you grew up and old with Willie personally!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Hagiography of th Great Willie Mays

    I remember Willie Mays playing baseball. I think he was the best total player of my lifetime.

    The book is a celebration of Willie Mays. I am happy to celebrate Mays with Hirsch. I think Hirsch's style and telling of the book was outstanding. Hirsch captured the times with Mays's transcendance of the troubled race relations. Mays was a great baseball player for some, and for others, he was only a black player.

    Hirsch depicts Mays as a man with a strongh relationship to his mentor father and strong relationships with other mentors as he grew up. Mays became mentor to others players as he neared the end of his career.

    Hirsch drew a contrast between Mays and Jackie Robinson. Mays was stoic and steadfast, Robinson was a complainer. Both had valid perspectives.

    I do not think that Hirsch had much balance when speaking about the caucasion players of Mays's time. It makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of his writing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 12, 2010

    Fantastic Book

    Willie Mays is one of the greatest players in baseball and this is a book that does fair job at reviewing the early years and paying days of the Say Hey Kid. While the author acknowledges that the material is essentially based on interviews and material already in existence, the writer does a great job of weaving the actual events with anecdotes from players, writers and other baseball men. A great baseball read to start the season.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    Bjorn to bw

    Lol thx for the help bw

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Hi

    Potts yo like cum?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2013

    Riolu

    Nothing...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 21, 2012

    If you can make it through the first third of the book, it's worth reading...

    Anyone that knows me knows that I have a passion for baseball. So, I often try to read something baseball related. I also like to read about great people. Recently, I saw that Willie Mays and I shared the same birthday and I saw this book in the bargain bin. Willie Mays definitely had an interesting life. From his time in the Negro Leagues to his debut in the major leagues, Willie's story shows what you can overcome if you work hard, never give up and are surrounded by supporting and loving people. With that being said...you will need to be patient with this version of Mays' story. The first third of the book reads like a newspaper account and lacks the charm, wonder, drama and excitement you would expect. The last two thirds of the book do a much better job of drawing the reader into Mays' life. I learned much about Mays' life (including that Jackie Robinson sounded like a bitter jerk), but I almost quit on this book because of the antiseptic first 200 pages. I'm glad I stuck it out.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 12, 2011

    a lot of willie

    it is a very good book as far as telling the readers about the negro leagues and his growing up days, the people in this life Leo and the rest make for a very entertaining read and over all a very good book, maybe a little to much about every home run and catch he ever made but being a Mays fan I liked that,

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2010

    the real Willie Mays. Highly recommend.

    I thought this book gave a great account of this great ball player's life. many people today have forgotten just what a great all around player he really was. many that have met him at shows, autograph events have depicted him as unfriendly or worse, but having read this book, if this is in fact the case, there are many pages of reasons why.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The life of Willie Mays parallels the social upheavals in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. This book is far more than a biography of the Say Hey Kid; it is a reflection of American life during the two decades after World War II.

    Hirsch is a compelling writer that captivates the essense of the true life of Willie Mays. Mays has been called the most complete baseball player of all time with the five tools that define great ballplayers. What is moving in this book is the way Mays both personified the way southern African-Americans were raised and treated in the South, but also the comparisons and differences of treatment in the North. The unfairness of treatment that black ballplayers received, whether playing in the Negro Leagues or making the breakthrough to the major leagues, is apparent. Baseball is played against the backdrop of the beginnings of the civil rights movement and that theme carries across the decades. Also of significance are the attitudes of the different black players to the response they should or shouldn't give to the movement. Hirsch makes compelling argument to the National League owners as being more receptive to breaking the color barrier than American League owners. Intertwined in the book is the story of the move of both the Dodgers and the Giants from New York to California. And overshadowing the entire book is the relationship between Willie Mays and Giant owner, Horace Stoneham. Willie Mays became a cult hero not only because of his natural ability and great plays, but because of his genuine love of being around kids. Willie enjoyed playing baseball. This is a great book for baseball lovers who remember the players of the 50s and 60s, but it is also a great book for the younger generations to read to try to understand what it was like to be a professional black athlete--- playing in front of thousands of fans---during the time of segregation, unrest, the challenge of the reserve clause and the changes in the game of baseball itself. This book is a gem.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Biography

    Willie May's is a living legend. This book lays his life open for all to read and see just how great of a life he led. He had a humble childhood and grew up to be a happy and humble baseball player, who was thankful for the opportunity he had to play.

    Mays preferred a private life and doesn't talk much about his past, and to be able to get a glimpse of it here, is a rare opportunity.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 29, 2010

    Superb Book!

    As much as I enjoy the sports genre, I can think of few over the years that are page turners. Willie Mays, by James Hirsch is a page turner; superbly written and an engaging account of one of America's greatest baseball players.

    The book is a well balanced account of Willie Mays's baseball career, his broader life story and the relevent societal backdrop over many decades that gives context to this story of such an interesting American hero.

    Mr. Hirsch treats his subject with great respect, but neither places him on an unapproachable level nor is he overly critical. This balance was greatly appreciated knowing that I was purchasing an biography authorized by Mr. Mays.

    Highly recommended for baseball fans or those who want to better understand this sport from the historical perspective that spans the Negro leagues to the more recent modern era.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    Great Biography

    Enjoyed reading this book very much it was very deailed. It showed not only the great abilities of Willie Mays but also the hardships he faced as a black player in the 50's and 60's.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    baseball legend

    "willie mays" is a very indepth book and the arthur has done a remarkable job documeting his early childhood years through his many historic years on the field and he shows how this great player was able to accomplish so many of his amazing acomphments.this book shares so many life lessons about this great player it is a great book to find out how he became so great.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)