Willie Mays today......my grandfather and father loved watching him play at ebbets field.
My dad said that he came into my grandfather's malt shop in the bronx a few times.
I wonder how many more HR's Mays would have if he not played in cold, damp, and windy Candlestick Park. I am a big Hank Aaron fan but the nine years he played for the Braves in Atlanta, the stadium was known as the "Launching Pad'', with short dimensions and the ball carried very well off the bat. Mays also missed time due to military service. As Mays nears the end of his life, I wonder if the younger generation of fans realize what a great player he was.
As a kid in Arizona, Pops and I were regulars at spring training for all the cactus Leaguers. Loaded up on autographs, especially Willie Mays. He never said no but he'd look at me and say "haven't I signed some autographs for you already?" To which I replied, "No sir!" And then he'd get this half smile half smirk on his face knowing dam good and well I was lying. What a great player and man. Happy birthday Willie!
Hank Aaron did not "launch" his home runs, they seldom made highlight reels. Much like Ted Williams his swing and contact were so near level his extra base hits, including home runs, were mostly of the line-drive type, but there was no doubt they were gone. If you sat in the left field bleachers you better have your glove or DUCK, cause you ain't stopping it with your bare hand. Three of the greatest hitters of the era were Aaron, Williams and Musial. They would have laughed off "launch angle" and told the nerd to gtfoh.
When Curt Flood came up to the Cardinals he innocently asked Stan Musial "what's the secret to hitting?" Musial looked at him like he was nuts, and replied, "There's no secret to hitting. You wait for the pitcher to throw a strike and hit the sh*t out of it." wooden ships, IRON MEN.
BTW: Ebbetts Field was not Willie's New York home park. the Polo Grounds in Manhattan was.