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TBT: Willie Mays announces his retirement

Sep 19, 2013, 2:01 PM PDT


The “Say Hey Kid” said goodbye on this week in 1973.

After 22 seasons in the Major Leagues, Willie Mays announced his retirement on September 20, 1973. The first-ballot Hall of Famer spent 20 seasons with the San Francisco Giants before he was traded to the Mets during the 1972 season.

The retirement announcement came with 10 days remaining in the regular season. Mays played with the Mets until the conclusion of the 1973 World Series, where they lost to the Oakland Athletics in seven games.  Mays recorded his final hit as a professional baseball player in Game Two.

Mays’ professional career began in 1947, when he played in the Negro Leagues while attending high school. He made his MLB debut in 1951, as a member of the New York Giants and was voted rookie of the year. He missed the 1953 season to serve his country. He never went on the disabled list while with the Giants and only hit the DL during his final season with the Mets.

Mays won his first MVP award in 1954 and won another in 1965. He led the National League in home runs in 1955, 1962, 1964 and 1965. His 660 home runs place him fourth on the all-time list. He may have been able to reach the 700 home run plateau if he didn’t miss over 200 games due to military service.

Coincidentally, Mays also became the seventh player in MLB history to reach 50 home runs during this week in 1955. In another strange coincidence, the San Francisco Giants are taking on The New York Mets in New York this week.

Notable Bay Area Sports Moments that occurred this week:

9/18/1909 – Largest paid baseball attendance (35,409), Philadelphia Athletics beat the Tigers, 2-0 in Detroit

9/17/1950 – San Francisco 49ers (formerly AAFC) play their first NFL game, lose 21-17

9/20/1955 – Willie Mays becomes the seventh player to reach 50 home runs in a season

9/20/1973 – Willie Mays announces his retirement

9/17/1984 – Reggie Jackson is 13th player to reach 500 home runs

9/18/2000 – Jason Giambi breaks Jose Canseco’s single-season RBI record (124 in 1988). He would finish the season with 137 RBI.

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