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Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

Written by James S. Hirsch

Narrated by Adam Grupper


Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

Written by James S. Hirsch

Narrated by Adam Grupper

ratings:
4.5/5 (15 ratings)
Length:
27 hours
Released:
Mar 8, 2011
ISBN:
9781442342392
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

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.

A Simon & Schuster audio production.

Released:
Mar 8, 2011
ISBN:
9781442342392
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

James Hirsch is a writer who has worked on the ‘New York Times’ and the ‘Wall Street Journal’.


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Reviews

What people think about Willie Mays

4.7
15 ratings / 10 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    great book
  • (5/5)
    Very nice
    Hirsch presents a complex portray of america's cultural icons.
  • (5/5)
    James S. Hirsch’s Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend will likely long stand as the definitive biography of one of the greatest players in baseball history. Hirsch tried for years to get Mays to work with him on the book project, finally securing that cooperation after nearly giving up hope. In addition to granting interviews, Mays directed the author to friends, colleagues, and family members, and provided access to documents, photos, and other archival material. Combining this with Hirsch’s extensive research, we get a clear and fully rounded picture of the man on and off the field. Hirsch’s literary style and narrative techniques put this book a cut far above most other baseball biographies.Between the foul lines we see Mays’s thrilling feats and accomplishments, his unmatched brand of baseball dynamism, and learn of his astute grasp of even the smallest nuances of the game. Hirsch follows the chronology of Mays’s brilliant career from his Negro League days with the Birmingham Black Barons to his pure joy of playing with the New York Giants, the long-delayed fan acceptance of him in San Francisco, and the sad and shaky final two years of his illustrious career with the New York Mets. The book is structured so that the timeline is occasionally interrupted with a chapter that specifically deals with a particular aspect of his life, such as racial issues or Mays’s lifelong devotion to children. This technique works well as it serves to help flesh out aspects of Mays’s character in a more focused manner. And Hirsch does not pull any punches when dealing with Mays’s personality traits or his personal issues. In the early years of his career, Mays’s early innocence, trusting nature, and happy-go-lucky manner were seen as byproducts of his youthful inexperience, but as he grew into manhood those traits largely intact it appeared to simply reflect a naïveté that was sorely out of step with the complexities of the adult world. His continual forgiveness for racial slights prompted rebuke from civil rights activists such as Jackie Robinson. Indeed his ensuing marital and financial problems can be linked directly to his trusting nature. And from those episodes he came to trust no one in his later years but baseball players, children, and household pets. None from those groups would ever betray him.
  • (4/5)
    A well- written bio on the Say Hey Kid. The book gives you just part of his life story because most details about his relationships are guarded and this creates a certain mystique behind Wille Mays the person. However, there is no denying that Willie Mays the player, gave us thrills that last a life time.
  • (5/5)
    This very well written biography meticulously chronicles many—if not all—of the important events in the life of Willie Mays as both a superstar baseball player and a complex and often inscrutable man. Perhaps the most enlightening aspect of Hirsch’s comprehensive examination of Mays’ life is his ability to clearly contextualize Mays’ achievements and experiences as part of baseball history and American history.Consequently, reading this book is comparable to reading a history of 20th-century America as viewed through the lens of one extraordinary man’s life; as he tells Mays’ story, Hirsch tackles many of the major issues of 20th-century America—namely race and racism, economics, and the growing popularity and cultural significance of sports. Hirsch spends a significant amount of time comparing and contrasting Mays’ role with respect to the civil rights movement with Jackie Robinson’s role. In this context, Mays appears to be a more conciliatory and less confrontational figure—which is true to character for him throughout his personal life and professional career. Whether playing the role of peacemaker in the Juan Marichal-Johnny Roseboro conflict (and the NY Mets fans vs. Pete Rose conflict during the 1973 NLCS) or patiently courting—over the course of years—his future second wife, Mays always chose the path of least resistance. This seeming passivity was often erroneously regarded as weakness or lack of fortitude, and Mays was sometimes left bitter and distrustful of others due to his experiences. Mays’ performance on the diamond and his genuine altruism, however, revealed a far more complex and compassionate man who valued harmony and peace above all else.Hirsch has written a compelling biography of one of the most complex and celebrated figures in modern baseball history. Mays is not without his flaws, and this book is far from a hagiography, but Mays is, without a doubt, the epitome of class and a man worthy of the admiration that so many have for him.  
  • (4/5)
    What can I say? I really enjoyed reading this biography of Willie Mays, who I saw play at the Polo Grounds as a kid. This is an authorized biography, so it doesn't explore every dark corner of Mays's life, but who wants to go there anyway?
  • (3/5)
    First, had to overcome dislike of narrator of these audio disks. As someone curious about Mays' rise during segregation, I was pleasantly surprised to find that his career in that regard was not as bad as most. generally his teammates were loyal to him. And his upbringing was pretty stable. I just got bored with it with 2 more CDs to go so finished it but found my mind wantering.
  • (5/5)
    An absorbing biography revealing much that was not known to me at the time the events occurred.Mays entered professional baseball in the years after World War 2 when some baseball owners began to accept that top players of all colors would bring in the fans and win games. As one of the first players crossing the color bar, Mays did not have an easy time of it. But his love of the game and style of play won him overwhelming and widespread admiration.The author carefully deals with many complex and sensitive issues. While this biography is not a simple adulatory work, it could be said to admire the Mays for his spirit and achievements in the complexity of his times.Readers will learn much about how racism was manifested in professional baseball in the US since the 1940s; what black players had to endure as a result; and how the different black players dealt with these issues. Mays' responses were his own. The author strives to present their integrity.Another fascinating theme in this book was the development of Mays' attitude toward professional baseball. Given the opportunity to play pro ball, his initial attitude was almost to play for free, he loved the game so much. Baseball was his life (although as a young man he was also an excellent football player). He was not found among those seeking to organize as players against the owners to win greater rights. But in later years we see how he came to feel more personally the labor and human rights issues being raised by those players.Finally, for baseball players, the author provides frequent insights into Mays' canny craftwork and feats of brilliant talent.
  • (5/5)
    For me, a "Mays worshiper", Hirsch has captured the essence of the legend. Mays was the greatest ball player of all time, without any doubt or argument. But, he is much more than that. He is a quality person through and through and this biography repeatedly highlights the aspects of Mays's life that demonstrates that fact.
  • (5/5)
    Reads like a long afternoon game with highs and lows shifting between the skills of the opposing teams. More than baseball, it introduced me to social changes in the 50s and 60s that I was too young to really appreciate or understand.