24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid

by Wille May and John Shea

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The book is a (very) extended interview between May and the author, which a lot of historical information included. May’s story is makes for good reading, although I thought the book was too long and repeative.

Some of the more interesting things I learned.

  • He played in the Negro Leagues
  • He lost almost two seasons serving in the Korean War
  • He might have broken Ruth’s record with the war and playing in Candlestick/Polo Grounds
  • He was raised by his father and two of his mother’s sisters (mother left, died young)
  • May said the level of play in the Negro League was better than the minors
  • Durocher has Mays room with his son to make sure he didn’t get in trouble
  • NY Giants had the first all-black outfield: Irwin, Mays, Thompson
  • Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal had more complete games than wins in their career. They both pitched all sixteen innings of a game when their team played. Marichal threw 227 pitches. Spahn was 43 years old.
  • Monte Irvin was given the chance to be the first black in the big leagues but turned it down. Felt he was no physically ready to play at the time.

Each chapter started with a quote from Mays. Many a memorable, common-sense advice.

Be open to learning from your parents and understanding where they’re coming from. They can help you if you let them.

Have fun with everything you do. Be comfortable. No need to act like you’re somebody else. Be yourself. That’s good enough.

Life takes you many places. Make the best of any situation. Complaining doesn’t help. You’ve gotta adjust and make it work for you.

Push to get the most out of your ability in whatever you do and feel good about yourself for getting the job done every day.

If you give your best effort, don’t get down on yourself if things don’t work out. Be happy with yourself and move on.

I had my own advanced stats. I learned hitter’s tendencies and memorized their strengths and weaknesses, which put me in the right position to succeed…

.302 lifetime average. 3,283 hits. 660 home runs. 1,903 RBIs. 338 stolen bases. 156.4 WAR.