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As the “Say Hey Kid” nears the end of his ninth decade on Earth, tip your cap to the great Willie Mays.

Or better yet, find a grassy field and just take off running until the cap naturally flies off your head.

That is the everlasting image of the Hall of Fame center fielder, whether he was making his signature catch against Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, hustling for home in an All-Star Game, or breaking up a double play at second base in spring training.

Throughout a unique career that played out on two coasts and across three decades, spanned eras from radio broadcasts to black-and-white and color television, the expansion from 16 to teams to 24, and from the Negro Leagues through integration, Mays never stopped running out from under his cap.

For most of the folks who were fortunate enough to see him play, and for millions who never did, Mays is simply the greatest all-around player in baseball history -- certainly in National League history. But for a sport that loves ranking its gods more than any other, nothing is ever that simple.

“I did things that no one else did,” Mays himself has said, humbly stating his case in just eight words.

Mays was “the first five-tool player before anyone else had even opened the shed,” wrote author James S. Hirsch in the authorized 2010 biography Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend, referring to a player’s abilities to hit for average, hit for power, run the bases, field and throw.

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Beckett Vintage Collector Apr-May 2020, Willie mays say hey to a legend, And more...