Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, left, receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Washington. Obama is recognizing 17 people with the nation's highest civilian award, including one of the greatest catchers in baseball history and a "Funny Girl." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays.


Birth date: May 6, 1931

Birth place: Westfield, Alabama

Birth name: William Howard Mays Jr.

Father: William Mays

Mother: Ann (Satterwhite) Mays

Marriages: Mae Louise Allen (1971-2013, her death); Margherite Wendell Chapman (1956-1961, divorced)

Children: adopted with Margherite Wendell Chapman: Michael

Military Service: US Army, 1952-1954

Other Facts

Career statistics include 3,283 hits, 660 home runs and a batting average of .302.

As of April 2021, only five other players in baseball history have hit more home runs than Mays: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols.

Won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves.

Played in 24 All-Star Games and four World Series.

Godfather to baseball player Barry Bonds.

His nickname was the “Say Hey Kid.”


1948-1950 - Plays for the Birmingham Black Barons, part of the Negro League.

1950 - Signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent.

1951-1957 - Plays for the New York Giants.

1951 - Is named National League Rookie of The Year.

1952-1954 - Serves in the US Army.

1954 - During the World Series, Mays makes an over-the-shoulder catch that is considered one of the most memorable moments in baseball history.

1954 - National league MVP.

1955, 1962, 1964, 1965 - Leads the National League in home runs.

1957 - Wins the first-ever Gold Glove for center field.

1958 - The New York Giants become the San Francisco Giants.

1958-1972 - Plays for the San Francisco Giants.

August 30, 1961 - Hits four home runs in one game.

1963 - MLB All-Star Game MVP.

1964 - Becomes the first black team captain in the major leagues.

1965 - National League MVP.

1968 - MLB All-Star Game MVP.

1972 - Is traded to the New York Mets.

1972-1973 - Plays for the New York Mets.

1973-1979 - New York Mets hitting instructor.

1979 - Is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving 409 out of 432 votes.

1986 - Assistant to the president of the Giants Organization. The position is extended for his lifetime in 1993.

2000 - Founds the Say Hey Foundation, which serves underprivileged children.

March 31, 2000 - A 23-ton bronze statue of Mays is unveiled at the new Major League ballpark in San Francisco.

December 2007 - Is inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

November 24, 2015 - Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

May 12, 2020 - “24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid” is published, co-authored by Mays and John Shea.