ATLANTA — As I read “24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid,” the 2020 bestselling book written by the great Willie Mays and San Francisco Chronicle national baseball writer John Shea, I found myself pondering the same question over and over again:
Who didn’t participate in this project?
The book, an autobiography of the legend oriented for school children (each chapter starts with a lesson), features a dream collection of Mays memories and salutes. The list includes interviews with former United States presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; over 30 members of the Hall of Fame; Mays’ teammates from the Negro Leagues, Giants and Mets; venerable opponents such as Carl Erskine and Maury Wills; the generally media-shy Barry Bonds; current superstars Mookie Betts and Mike Trout; legendary singer Huey Lewis, a big baseball fan; and many, many more.
“In our job, on a great day, if you send 10 calls out, you’re hoping to hit .300, or .500 on a great day,” Shea said in a recent interview. “But with Mays you’re probably batting 1.000, because everybody has a Willie story.”