Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Say Hey, Willie, Willie Said What?

A long time friend of mine, Kurt, who I have known for almost 20 years and worked with for 12, recently had dinner with Willie Mays. Prior to his engagement, he asked me if I had one question I could ask Willie, what would it be. Wow, that's a project right there, coming up with just one question. Immediately I thought this: "Did you have it all the way?", referring to his '54 Series catch. But we discussed it out, and my friend eventually asked him something I mentioned that I had heard before.

They had hours of discussion about baseball and Willie's service in the military. Great, funny stories. He had many questions lined up, but the one from me was a confirmation of what I told him. I heard Willie McCovey say once that for 14 years he had the best seat in all of baseball. This was in reference, of course, to his being in the on-deck circle when Mays was at bat. No fan in the front row, no player in the dugout or on the field had a closer view of Mays batting than McCovey. The catcher and umpire may have been closer, but their job was to watch the ball, and even then they only had a 3 game series with Mays as a player. McCovey watched Mays every day, home and road, day or night, for 14 years, from 30 to 50 feet away. Wow.

So Kurt asked him if he ever heard McCovey say that. He hadn't, and was glad to hear it now. I didn't get to talk to Kurt past this one bit, so tomorrow I hope to hear the rest of the story.

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