If there's any word to describe Willie Mays as a baseball player it would be excellent. Mays excelled in all categories. Born in Alabama, by the age of 6 he went to an all black school. When he was 8 he was good enough at baseball to play with the 12-year-olds.
When Mays was 19 he joined the Negro Birmingham Black Barons. Then in 1951 he became part of the New York Giants. In that year he received the "Rookie of the Year" award. This was during the Korean war, and the next year Mays was drafted into military service. When he came back, his first at-bat was a home run.
A year later he became an All-Star Player. He played in All-Star games from 1954 until 1974. Also in 1954, the Giants won their first World Series. Mays was named Most Valuable Player that year for his many great plays, including his over-the-shoulder catch to sweep the Indians in the World Series. Mays won MVP another time. He also won many other awards: twelve gold gloves, four National League crowns, and three stolen base titles.