Little League Remembers Willie Mays, Baseball Hall of Famer and the “The Say Hey Kid”


Little League International joins the entire baseball community in remembering the life of Willie Mays, “The Say Hey Kid,” who was an inspiration to generations. The news of his passing, at the age of 93, came on June 18, 2024, just two days before the historic “MLB at Rickwood Field” game in Birmingham, Alabama, where Mr. Mays began his career as a teenager in the Negro Leagues.

During his stellar big league career, Mr. Mays combined for 3,293 hits, a .301 career batting average, 660 home runs, two MVP awards, 24 All-Star appearances, and 12 Gold Glove Awards to earn his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. But, his impact on the game went much deeper than just his incredible efforts on the field.

Throughout his entire career, Mr. Mays was a large supporter of Little League, and in 2006 was named by George W. Bush as the Tee Ball Commissioner for the 2006 Little League Tee Ball on the Front Lawn Initiative.

Willie Mays and George W. Bush.
Baseball legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays walks with President George W. Bush as he acknowledges a standing ovation from the crowd Sunday, July 30, 2006, upon their arrival for the Tee Ball on the South Lawn game between the Thurmont Little League Civitan Club of Frederick Challengers of Thurmont, Md., and the Shady Spring Little League Challenger Braves of Shady Spring, W. Va. Mays was the honorary Tee Ball Commissioner for the game. White House photo by Paul Morse

While his actions and creativity on the field has inspired countless kids to try and mimic his iconic swing or over-the-shoulder catch from their backyards to their own baseball diamonds, Mr. Mays always found a way to support young baseball players on and off the field. Learn more about his passion for teaching Little Leaguers in this article from the 1955 Little League Magazine, featuring Mr. Mays:

1995 Willie Mays article in Little League Magazine (Page 1)

1995 Willie Mays article in Little League Magazine (Page 2)

While Willie Mays is no longer physically with the baseball community anymore, his legacy and the inspiration he provides to generations of children and aspiring baseball players will forever live on.