Mailbox: Recalling memories of the great Willie Mays, Bill Walton

Giants outfielder Willie Mays poses for a portrait at Crosley Field in Cincinnati in 1967.
Giants outfielder Willie Mays poses for a portrait at Crosley Field in Cincinnati in 1967.

Have more comments, questions? Reach out to me at bwhite1@dispatch.com. Letters are lightly edited for clarity.

On Willie Mays

To Brian: I toured MLB ballparks as a young man before being married. When going into Shea Stadium just after Willie Mays' return to New York at the end of his career, we were obviously passing the players' parking lot when I saw a pink convertible Cadillac with California plates SAY HEY.

I remember being especially excited to attend my first MLB game in 1959 at age 11 because it wasn't just the Giants, but Willie Mays.

Dennis Singleton, Dayton

To Dennis: Mays is a central figure in the argument of who was the greatest player of all time. Ruth? Aaron? Bonds? Williams? Cobb? Gibson? Mays appeared in 24 All-Star Games, but one stat that seems surprising is that he was named MVP only twice. ESPN recently did a wonderful look at how Mays would have fared if voters leaned on stats and sabermetrics like they do now and determined he would have won eight, one more than the seven Bonds has as the all-time leader. That seems more like it.

Unknown date; Boston, MA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Portland Trailbazers center Bill Walton (left) battles for position with Boston Celtics center Dave Cowens (right) at Boston Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports
Unknown date; Boston, MA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Portland Trailbazers center Bill Walton (left) battles for position with Boston Celtics center Dave Cowens (right) at Boston Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports

On basketball stars

To Brian: What a great photo (Dispatch, May 28) of professionals Dave Cowens and Bill Walton positioning for a rebound, itself a tribute to the UCLA/NBA star who died on Memorial Day. Many remember Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who preceded him at UCLA. They played for John Wooden, the winningest NCAA coach (10 championships). Abdul-Jabbar's success reached new heights with six NBA championships, five as a Laker, one with Milwaukee. Walton had two: one in Portland and later off the bench with Boston, a team already loaded with stars. A history of foot fractures would beleaguer his career - over 30 surgeries, missing four full seasons.

Three matchups in the NBA that stood out to me back then: Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain, Bird and Magic and Michael Jordan vs. the world. When college greatness continues on a higher level - the NBA also highlighting great coaches - I don't think championship competition gets any better. Just 5-on-5. That includes the crowd, the lights, the music and the distinct sound of squeaking shoes.

Larry Cheek, Dublin

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Mailbox: Recalling memories of the great Willie Mays, Bill Walton

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