When I was a kid in New York City, I doubt a week went by when I didn’t hear about the supreme glories of Willie Mays. My father, who viewed the Giants’ transcontinental renunciation of his home town as an historic catastrophe roughly equivalent to the Black Death, never stopped rerunning in his mind’s eye the Best of Willie — running, catching, slugging, throwing and grinning. As the years passed, Mays for him became a symbol of better times and greater value — when everybody liked Ike and you could catch a double-feature (plus cartoons and a newsreel) for 50 cents. And when the acronym DH stood only for “double header.”

Today is Willie Mays’ 80th birthday. Which seems to me pretty young for a guy who has been around my entire life, and whom some part of me thinks is immortal.

At 6:45 p.m. tonight, before the Giants game at AT&T Park, a televised celebration will ensue. But before then, the web’s got a double-header’s worth of memories to connect you with the man who once said, when asked to rate the many of his physics-defying grabs off an opposing player’s bat, “I don’t compare ‘em, I just catch ‘em.”


The Catch

On Charlie Rose:


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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