Rest in peace, Willie Mays

The baseball world says goodbye to a giant.

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There have been innumerable great baseball players in the history of the sport, in Major League Baseball and otherwise. Those you could describe as singular talents, however, makes for a much shorter list. The ones for which there has really just been the one of them, ever — even someone as incredible as Mickey Mantle has their future comparison point in Mike Trout.

Willie Mays was one such player, as we’re all being reminded of on Wednesday morning, after learning that the 93-year-old legend passed away peacefully on Tuesday. Maybe not the greatest at any one thing in history, except for being the level of great he was at as many things as he was. Consider that, as incredible as, say, Mookie Betts has been in his career thus far, as a threat at the plate and on the bases and in the field, he’s just nowhere near what Mays accomplished. Betts has a career OPS+ of 139, which is excellent, yes, but Mays finished at 155 even after his down years, of which there weren’t many. Really, just the one, at age 42 in 1973, after a career that kicked off as a 17-year-old in 1948. Mays had nine top-five MVP finishes, received MVP votes in 15 of his 23 seasons, led the league in homers as many times as he did steals — four a piece — and, oh, was a great defender, too. He lost a full year and most of another to military service in Korea, too, as the draft was still around when Mays was playing ball.

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