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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2011 James S. Hirsch (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • Gridley, CA, United States
  • 05-12-13

Mays Still Hits The Ball Out of the Park

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. The book did a very good job of giving a broad spectrum view of a simple, hard working man, who overcame much, remained very humble and did a lot of good for humanity, even to this day at age 80

What was one of the most memorable moments of Willie Mays?

His caring for Johnny Roseboro durning a brawl between the Giants and Dodgers showed the depth of his character and his humanness.

What does Adam Grupper bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He brought old memories back to life as if they were actually happening anew.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Hearing of Mays' care for his ailing wife, who has now, just recently, passed away.

Any additional comments?

All baseball fans deserve to learn about Willie Mays and to see how he contributed in a very different way than "Number 21" in bringing the black athlete up in society in general.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steven
  • Bloomington, MN, United States
  • 07-18-17

If You Love Baseball... Learn about Willie

I have dedicated much of my time to listening to audible's great selection of baseball audiobooks. I have come to notice that when it comes to player biographies this is the style I enjoy the most. I know that sports writers do not like to post the players box scores in their books and want to go deeper, but Willie Mays has books written about him because he may be the greatest baseball player of all time. This book along with The Kid about Ted Williams finds a great balance of telling stories about the man and his life, and actually making you understand what the ballplayer did day in and day out. I love the detail, I love going season by season through Willie May's experience. I love getting to hear about the great World Series this Giant of the game played in. It is the next best thing to getting to watch Willie Mays play ball throughout his career which I did not have the opportunity to do. I also want to mention that with all the great game by game accounts, this book goes deep into the issues Willie went through in his personal life. The way he was perceived as a high profile African American man in a time when that was especially difficult. This is a well rounded book it fits the term comprehensive,and I am really glad I learned about Willie Mays.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

Loved every second of the story of my all time favorite. Made me love Willie more

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Ruined by terrible narration

It’s a good and solid retelling of the great May’s life., unfortunately it’s marred by a goofy narrator who, ostensibly, doesn’t know diddly about baseball and can’t pronounce famous players names like Marichal and Cepeda or, as he calls them - Jim BOOTIN and Tom HOLLER. It’s maddening and will make real fans nuts. Further, it’s publicized as having an interview with the ads Hey Kid but it’s not on this spoken version of the book. I wished I’d simply gotten the book and read it myself.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • J. Ash
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • 08-28-18

G re eat baseball history about a great player

This is a well writen book about,one of the greatest player to put on a uniform

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As a 1958 Baby Boomer, Pro Football had

supplanted Major League baseball as the sport of my youth and peers, so this biography was very revealing and told a wonderful story about a sports icon of whom I knew next to nothing and who was - as pointed out - “not a credit to his race, but a credit to the human race.” As such, Willie Mays actual story and the authors richly detailed events deserves 5 stars. Unfortunately the understandable bias of his biographer is so pronounced it gilds the Lilly - ( at best) and at worst lends a stridency that, in my mind, rendered the telling almost a harangue. Not a satisfying chronicle of an amazing American, but a highly editorialized history that I found unnecessary and overly conclusory.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Douglas
  • New Rochelle, NY, USA
  • 08-06-18

Very good and enjoyable

Perfect for the Willie Mays fan, and who doesn’t like Willie. Well written and performed well.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Baseball at its best

Well done you can almost relive the great days of baseball.
A little too much on the race subject but that is the way it was.
A great tribute to a great baseball player and a great person.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

WIllie Mays:The Life, The Legent is one of best sport biographies that I have read

An excellent book. A good read for any sport's fan and a must read for a Giant fan and especially a Willie Mays fan in which I'm proud to be one of probably millions.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I love the Willie Mays story!

Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player of all time! And not only that, but a good man too.