From BR Bullpen
Moved from "Willie Mays' first Home Run"
May 25, 1951: Willie Arrives
The New York Giants announced that 20 year old Willie Mays will start in centerfield tonight against the Phillies at Shibe Park. Giants' manager Leo Durocher and Carl Hubbell, who has seen Mays play, both expressed the belief that they had acquired an exceptional player. The Giants' press release stated that "no minor league player in a generation has created so great a stir as has Mays at Minneapolis." When Durocher spoke to Minneapolis Millers' manager Tommy Heath, he was told to play Mays in centerfield because Willie could cover it like a tent and the Polo Grounds, with its vast expanse of outfield, was made to order for him. The Giants' new outfielder would hit third in the Giants' lineup.
A Great But Brief Minor League Career
At Minneapolis, Mays batted .477 in 35 games for the Triple A Millers. He hit 8 home runs, had 31 RBIs, 29 extra base hits, and stole 8 bases. The Giants signed Mays after he graduated from high school in June, 1950, and assigned him to Trenton of the International League (AAA), where he hit .353 in 81 games.
Hitless in Philadelphia
Willie Mays went hitless in 5 at bats in his major league debut against the Phillies last night at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Mays struck out his first time up, taking a called third strike from Phillies' starter Bubba Church. He grounded out to third baseman Willie Jones in his second at bat, and hit a deep drive to right center that was hauled in after a long run by Del Ennis his next time up. The Say Hey Kid then sent another deep drive, this time to the left field fence, that Dick Sisler caught. Willie made a harmless out in his last plate appearance, but did make two outstanding defensive plays that helped the Giants beat the Phillies, 8-5.
Two Walks But No Hit
The Giants, who won two of their first three games to open the season and then went into an eleven game losing streak, reached the .500 mark by defeating the Phillies behind Larry Jansen's seven hit shutout, 2-0. It was their seventeenth win in their last 24 games, which has been the best pace of any National League team. Willie Mays went hitless but drew two walks and played flawlessly in center field.
Sal Maglie pitched an even better shut out than Larry Jansen did as the Giants again beat the Phillies, 2-0, before 9,090 fans. No Phillie reached second base as Maglie limited the defending National League champions to a pair of hits. Willie Mays, playing his third game, went hitless in five at bats and will face Braves' left hander Warren Spahn tomorrow as the Giants return home for three game set against Boston.
Willie Faces the Winningest Left-Hander in Baseball History
The largest crowd of the season at the Polo Grounds, 23,101, saw rookie centerfielder Willie Mays get the first hit of his career off Boston's ace left hander, Warren Spahn, as the Braves snapped the Giants' four game winning streak, 4-1. After retiring Eddie Stanky and Whitey Lockman in the first inning, Spahn faced Mays, who had gone hitless in 12 at bats in Philadelphia. Willie broke the drought with a long shot that went over the roof in left field for his first major league hit. But it was not a good game for Willie, who took a called third strike with two runners on, and popped up with a runner on base to end the game.