Best Thing About the New Ballpark - 2000
The Willie Mays Statue
The charismatic Mays played in 2,992 major-league games, resulting in 3,283 hits, 140 triples, 523 doubles, 1,903 runs batted in, 7,095 putouts (unsurpassed for an outfielder), 338 stolen bases, and 660 home runs. Facing up to the toughest challenge in sports -- connecting with a major-league baseball -- Mays succeeded one out of three times, an amazing statistic. (He once executed the hit and run with a line drive to center as he was staggering to the ground from a bean ball, and during one 1961 game he hit four home runs, following that up a few games later with three.) He was a spectacular fielder, heading for the place the ball was going to land before the batter had even made contact, throwing the ball from his command post in center field farther than anybody had before. (Once, running to his left but throwing from his right, he nailed a runner sprinting in from third base with a deep-centerfield rocket to home plate clocked at 85 mph.) He stole signs with the aplomb of a 007 and ran the bases like an accomplished jewel thief, at one point making it home from first base on a single to left despite a pulled thigh muscle. Isn't it amazing that the greatest baseball player of all time played most of his career at Candlestick Park?