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The Legacy of Willie Mays: The World Series MVP Award

Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player Award – Name Change and Honoring Willie Mays

Willie Mays is a name forever etched in baseball history as one of the sport’s greatest players. Throughout his career, Mays racked up numerous accolades, including being a two-time National League MVP, a 24-time All-Star, and winning 12 Gold Gloves.

However, one honor that had long been waiting for Mays finally came in 1980, when he was awarded the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. The accolade recognized his exceptional performance during the 1954 World Series where he helped lead his team, the New York Giants, to the championship.

In recognition of his significance to the sport and as a way of showing the tremendous respect players and fans have for him, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced on December 11, 1978, that the World Series MVP award would be renamed the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award. This was a fitting tribute to the talent, character, and work ethic of one of the game’s greatest players.

The award’s renaming rightly put Willie Mays in the all-time greats’ company, a list that includes the likes of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Hank Aaron, among others, all of whom have individual honors in their names. The gesture was also a step towards keeping Willie Mays’s legendary legacy alive for generations to come, given that younger fans who may not have watched him play remain connected to the sport and its history.

Willie Mays’ World Series Performance

Mays’s performance at the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians earned him the MVP award and helped establish him as one of baseball’s dominant players. Going into that game, the Indians were widely expected to win, with some pundits even predicting a sweep.

However, it was not to be, as Mays rose to the occasion and showed his class. In game one, Mays had an outstanding catch in the eighth inning that is now known as his “The Catch” and is considered one of the greatest plays in baseball history.

In that play, he chased down a long drive by Vic Wertz that would have won the game for the Indians but made a difficult over-the-shoulder catch that robbed Wertz of the hit and kept the Giants in the game. The play helped the Giants extend the game to extra innings, and they went on to win the game in the 10th inning.

Mays’s performance wasn’t just limited to that one catch. He went on to bat .250 and scored two runs in the four-game sweep.

Still, it was the catch that defined his performance, and he went on to be named the series Most Valuable Player.

Willie Mays Career

Mays began his baseball career at a time when racism was rife and rampant in the United States, with the majority of blacks still enduring segregation in all aspects of life. For Mays, his talent helped him break down these barriers, and he established himself as one of baseball’s greatest players.

Mays got his start in the major leagues with the New York Giants in 1951. Playing in just 121 games, he proved to the league that he was a rising star, winning National League Rookie of the Year honors.

The rest of his career was marked by a string of successes on and off the field, including three National League MVP awards. He also played in a record 24 All-Star games, a record that still stands today.

Mays was known for his versatile skill set, his power hitting, base stealing, and defense prowess. He retired with an impressive career batting average of .302, 660 home runs, 1,903 runs batted in, and 3,283 hits.

His consistent production for most of his career is reflected in his high .384 lifetime on-base percentage and .557 lifetime slugging percentage.

Mays’s accolades and achievements were not just relegated to the field of play.

He was also part of a generation of black players who helped integration in sports. As a trailblazing black player, he served as an inspiration to a generation of young African Americans who aspired to follow in his footsteps.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Willie Mays’s contribution to baseball cannot be overstated, and he is a player that is sure to be remembered for generations to come. While he retired from the game decades ago, his legacy remains strong in all aspects of baseball, from the way the game is played to the awards that honor its players.

The renaming of the World Series MVP award to honor Mays further underscores his contribution to the game, a fitting tribute to a truly extraordinary player.

History and Winners of the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award

Since the renaming of the World Series Most Valuable Player Award in 1980 to the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award, the trophy has been awarded to some of the game’s most outstanding players. The award recognizes individual players’ performances during the World Series games, making it one of the most coveted individual awards in baseball.

This article examines the award’s history and some of the notable past and recent winners.

Willie Mays World Series MVP Award Winners

Some of the greatest performances in baseball history have been recognized by the award. The inaugural winner, Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitcher Willie Stargell, was awarded the renamed trophy in 1979 after delivering an outstanding performance that led the Pirates to victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Since the renaming of the award, it has been won by some of the game’s most iconic players. Ozzie Smith, Reggie Jackson, and Derek Jeter are just some of the players who have earned their place in baseball history by winning the award.

Madison Bumgarner’s shocking dominance during the 2014 World Series won him the award, pitching in five games while amassing an unbeatable record of two wins, a save, and an ERA of 0.43. The 2016 World Series saw possible the greatest Game 7 in baseball history, with the Cubs and the Indians facing off in a winner-takes-all clash to decide the series.

Ben Zobrist was awarded the MVP award for his impressive performance throughout the series, but especially his offensive performance in the decisive game when he hit the go-ahead RBI double.

Recent Award Winners and Their Performances

In recent years, the award has gone to some rising stars of the game, players who have earned their place among baseball’s elite. Houston Astros player George Springer won the award in 2017, following an outstanding performance that included five home runs, eight runs batted in (RBIs), and an impressive .379 batting average.

In 2018, Boston Red Sox’s Steve Pearce took home the honor for his critical contribution in his team’s World Series triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pearce hit three home runs in the series, including two in the decisive Game 5 that set the tone for the Red Sox’s victory.

In 2019, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg took home the award after pitching two incredibly impressive games against the Houston Astros. Strasburg went 2-0 in the series, pitching a total of 14 innings with a 2.51 ERA.

The most recent Willie Mays World Series MVP award winner was Jorge Soler in 2021, representing the Atlanta Braves. Soler captured the MVP trophy thanks to his impressive performance in the World Series against the Houston Astros.

Soler hit a three-run homer in Game 1 and hit again in Game 6 to clinch the victory for the Braves, becoming the first player in World Series history to hit three homers, drive in five runs, and steal two bases in a single Championship Series. Jeremy Pea was the true star of the 2021 World Series, representing the Houston Astros.

Although the Astros fell short against the Atlanta Braves, Pea’s standout performances throughout the series meant he was a strong contender for MVP. In the six games he played, Pea hit four home runs, one of which came in Game 6the decisive gameleading to his being regarded as an extraordinary player who performed well even when the stakes were high.

Conclusion

The Willie Mays World Series MVP Award continues to be an essential part of baseball history, not just as a recognition of individual excellence but also as a reminder of the skills, talent, and hard work needed to achieve greatness at baseball’s biggest stage. The award recognizes the invaluable contribution of individuals to the sport and will undoubtedly continue to inspire new generations of players for years to come.

The Willie Mays World Series MVP Award, named after baseball legend Willie Mays, recognizes individual players’ performances during the World Series games, making it one of the most coveted individual awards in baseball. The award has been won by some of the game’s most iconic and rising stars, including George Springer and Stephen Strasburg.

The article highlights the importance of recognizing individual players’ excellence, inspiring new generations of players for years to come. FAQs:

1.

What is the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award? The Willie Mays World Series MVP Award is an individual award recognizing players’ performances during the World Series games.

2. Who is the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award named after?

The award is named after baseball legend Willie Mays. 3.

Who are some of the notable winners of the award? Some notable winners of the prestigious award include Madison Bumgarner, Ben Zobrist, and Steve Pearce.

4. Who were the most recent award winners?

Jorge Soler and Stephen Strasburg were the 2021 and 2019 award winners, respectively. 5.

What is the significance of the award? The award recognizes individual players’ excellence, inspiring new generations of players for years to come.

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