Baseball community, athletes and more react to Willie Mays’ death: ‘The best there ever was’

Written by on June 19, 2024

San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds (L) laughs with godfather and Giants legend Willie Mays as Mays was introduced during the Giants Opening Day against the San Diego Padres on April 5, 2002 ,in San Francisco, California. (JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — The baseball world is in mourning following the death of Willie Mays at 93.

Major League teams across the U.S. expressed their condolences as they remembered the iconic athlete of their sport, who played 22 seasons and had 660 home runs.

The San Francisco Giants, the team Mays spent the most time on, announced the news of his death Tuesday night, going on to share the outpouring of love from across the baseball community.

“He leaves us with a lasting reminder: to work hard and find joy in this great game and this extraordinary life,” the Giants posted Tuesday evening on X. “Say Hey, Willie Mays. The best there ever was.”

Some of the biggest athletes in sports, legends in their own right, also turned to social media to share memories of the former San Francisco Giants player.

Read on to see how the baseball community and notable figures are remembering Mays:

“We join the baseball world in mourning the passing of Willie Mays,” read a post on the Mets’ X page.

Barry Bonds, Mays’ godson and whose father played with Mays on the Giants, shared his heartfelt emotions on Instagram.

“I am beyond devastated and overcome with emotion,” Bonds, also a Giants legend, wrote. “I have no words to describe what you mean to me- you helped shape me to be who I am today. Thank you for being my Godfather and always being there. Give my dad a hug for me. Rest in peace Willie, I love you forever. #SayHey”

New York Yankees alum Derek Jeter called Mays, “One of the best to ever play the game and even a better person.”

“Thoughts and prayers are with Willie’s family and loved ones,” he added on X.

The Seattle Mariners called Mays, “an icon of the sport.”

“Our hearts break at the news of Willie Mays’ passing, and we send our condolences to his family, friends and loved ones,” the team’s statement continued. “His impact on and off the field will live on forever.”

Jose Canseco wrote on X, “One of the best to ever play the game. Rest in Peace Willie Mays.”

“We join the baseball community in mourning the passing of the legendary Willie Mays.Our hearts go out to the @SFGiants and all of Willie’s family and friends,” read a post on the St. Louis Cardinals’ X page.

Former President Barack Obama posted on Threads, writing, “Willie Mays wasn’t just a singular athlete, blessed with an unmatched combination of grace, skill and power. He was also a wonderfully warm and generous person – and an inspiration to an entire generation. I’m lucky to have spent time with him over the years, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family.”

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson shared condolences on behalf of himself and wife Cookie Johnson.

“I’m devastated to hear about the passing of the legendary Hall of Famer Willie Mays, one of the main reasons I fell in love with baseball. Cookie and I are praying for his family, friends, and fans during this difficult time,” Johnson wrote.

Former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia wrote on X, “I’ll never forget this day when I walked in and heard, ‘that’s that boy who wears his hat like this.’ RIP Willie Mays. You changed the game forever and inspired kids like me to chase our dream. Thank you for everything that you did on and off the field. Always in our hearts.”

Tennis legend Billie Jean King wrote on X, “He was a 24-time All-Star, a 12-time Gold Glover, a 2-time MVP, World Series champion, and a Hall of Famer.”

“The great Willie Mays has passed away. It was a privilege to know him. We were both honored by @MLB in 2010 with the Beacon Award, given to civil rights pioneers,” her post continued.

“He was a such a kind soul, who gifted my brother Randy a new glove and a television during his rookie year with the @SFGiants,” she wrote, adding, “My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed.”

Actor and comedian Billy Crystal wrote on X, “The great @Willie Mays has passed away. Had the honor of talking with him several times. He loved that we mentioned his ‘54 World Series catch in @CitySlickers.The man who hit the ball and the “ Giant” who caught it signed this ball. RIP #24.. a thrill to watch you play.”

“Willie Mays was more than just a baseball icon. He broke barriers and inspired millions of Americans — setting records, bringing joy to countless fans, and becoming a role model for a generation of future athletes. The ‘Say Hey Kid’ will be dearly missed — and never forgotten,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement on X.

The mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, shared a lengthy post commenting on Mays’ legacy.

“To a native San Franciscan, some things just go without question: it’s foggy in the summer, cable cars go halfway to the stars, and Willie Mays is the best there ever was. It was an unbelievable opportunity of a lifetime to meet someone like Willie Mays. I remember hearing about the struggles that he endured because he was black, and what he overcame to become an icon on the field and the greatest baseball player of all time. He was from a generation who faced segregation and racism, a generation that paved the way so that many of us could have the freedom to thrive. Willie Mays meant so much to this city as a player, but also as a leader, staying involved in San Francisco and the Giants organization long after he retired from the game he loved. Willie Mays will forever be the greatest of giants in the story of San Francisco,” she wrote on X.

The Philadelphia Phillies posted, “We join the Giants and all of baseball in mourning the loss of Hall of Famer Willie Mays.Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones.”

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