By Susan Johnes
One of the most legendary baseball players of all time, Willie Mays, has a street in Harlem, New York now bearing his name.
Willie Mays Drive, located at the northeast corner of 155th street and Harlem River Drive in Manhattan, was unveiled just a short distance away from the Polo Grounds, where Mays began his legendary career with the Giants sixty years ago.
Mays also lived in the neighborhood and retired from the New York Mets in 1973. During the ceremony, Michael Mays, the legend’s son, accepted a proclamation from the New York State Assembly.
Officials also celebrated the 63rd anniversary Mays’ “The Catch,” which is the most significant baseball catch known to history.
As reported by the Times, when Mays started his career in 1951, he lived right on top of the hill on St. Nicholas Place (the Sugar Hill area) for the first two years of his career. “I used to go up and down the Polo Grounds via 155th Street all the time, so I’m familiar with this area, he said.
Mays displayed his incredible skills in sports when he regularly played stickball with a group of 10 children. That was the beginning of his break-through, and after a given time, he made a name for himself when he became rookie of the year and won a World Series Championship.
But the Giants’ departure to San Francisco took Mays away from Harlem in 1957.
However, years later, he returned to his home and visited more than 200 students at a local public school in January 2011.
Mays spent six years with the Giants through the 1957 season, then moved with the team to San Francisco, where he played until ending his career back in New York with the Mets in 1973.
According to May’s son, Michael Mays, he and his 86-year-old dad were thrilled by this honor, because Harlem is where it all began.
“You can’t beat the pride,” Michael Mays said. “He’s a significant person in history. He’s in the white house, and has incredible and significant achievements in his life.” The organizers of the event said they hope the street sign also inspires the younger generation.
However, the most exciting news is that this will not only be Mays honor. Major League Baseball also recently announced that the World Series MVP award would be named the “Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player.”
And from this ceremony near the old Polo Grounds, it is apparent that Harlem meant a lot to the baseball legend. That’s why the City officials decided to celebrate the life of a baseball legend by pitching up a permanent tribute.