- Willie Howard Mays Jr.
Willie Howard Mays Jr.
San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer
San Francisco State University
Mr. Willie Howard Mays, Jr.’s baseball career is the stuff of legend. A complete player who excelled in every aspect of the game, he set records and amassed honors in his 22 major league seasons. Thirty-two years after retiring, he still holds the record for outs by an outfielder; ranks fourth on the career home runs list; leads in Golden Glove Awards to an outfielder; was ranked by The Sporting News as the second greatest baseball player of the 20th century; and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. His joy in the game was obvious and made him beloved, as well as admired.
Throughout his life, Mr. Mays has displayed qualities of character to match his athletic excellence. He faced down discrimination in his native Alabama, refusing to settle for the dry-cleaning career into which his school had tracked him. He worked tirelessly to master the game he loved and started his professional career at 16 in the segregated Negro Southern League. He joined the New York Giants in only their second year of integration. His immediately stellar play was interrupted by the draft, but he served willingly and never complained about the effect of those years of service on his career.
In his retirement, Mr. Mays has turned his long-standing concern for young people and education into action. In 1972, he established the Say Hey Foundation to provide opportunities for young people who, like him, come from poor communities. The Foundation has provided college scholarships and continues to emphasize community enrichment throughout the Bay Area. Mr. Mays’ support has extended to San Francisco State University, where the Foundation is helping fund the Guardian Scholars Program for former foster youth. Mr. Mays also helped to build a Boys and Girls Club, now named for him, in one of San Francisco’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The Club provides at-risk young people with a safe center where they can obtain computer training and literacy programs.
In recognition of his notable commitment to youth, community and education, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Francisco State University are proud to confer upon Willie Howard Mays, Jr. the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.