New York Mets retire Willie Mays No. 24

New York Mets retire Willie Mays No. 24

The San Francisco Giants retired Willie Mays’ No. 24 jersey, in essence, after he was traded to the New York Mets 50 years ago. The New York Mets also officially retired Mays’ No. 24 jersey, the team said in a surprise announcement during their Old Timers Day on Saturday.

Mays ended his 23-year Hall of Fame career with the Mets in a ceremonious final two years that brought him back to the city where his Major League Baseball career began with the New York Giants. Mays, a Rookie of the Year, MVP and 1954 World Series champion in New York, came to San Francisco with the Giants in 1958.

Mays spent the bulk of his career in San Francisco, including 14 of his 24 All-Star nods, 11 of his 12 Gold Gloves and one of his two MVP awards. When the team’s performance started to slip and ticket sales began to plummet, the Giants traded Mays to the Mets in May of 1972.

Wearing the Mets’ blue and orange — team colors chosen to honor the departed Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants when the expansion team was created in 1962 — Mays hit his 660th, and final, home run at Shea Stadium in 1973 at age 42.

Mays and the Mets reached the World Series in 1973, where they squared off with the Bay Area’s other team, the A’s. In Game 2, Mays hit a go-ahead single in the 12th inning off of Rollie Fingers to start a four-run rally in a 10-7 win. He finished the World Series 2-for-7 as the Mets lost to the A’s in seven games.

“I want to thank Steve and Alex Cohen for making this day possible and embracing Mets history,” Mays, 91, said. “I can never forget the way it felt to return to New York to play for all the loyal Mets fans. I’m tremendously proud I ended my career in Queens with the Mets during the ’73 World Series. It’s an honor to have my number retired in my two favorite cities – New York and San Francisco. New York was a magical place to play baseball.”

Pre-game move

The San Francisco Giants recalled outfielder Luis Gonzalez prior to their game against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

Outfielder Bryce Johnson was optioned as the corresponding move. Gonzalez had a brief stint with Triple-A Sacramento, optioned on Aug. 18 so that the Giants could activate reliever Zack Littell from the injured list.

The Giants were in dire need of pitching prior to a long series in Colorado against the Rockies in which inning eaters Logan Webb and Carlos Rodón were not scheduled to pitch.

Manager Gabe Kapler said back then he expected Gonzalez back with the team sooner than later. But they hoped Gonzalez could use time with the River Cats to turn around a rough August in which he went 6-for-40 with eight strikeouts, five walks and a few base running blunders.

“He did a great job for us,” Kapler said when Gonzalez was optioned. “Obviously he still has things to work on, I shared that with him and he knows that. But he’s also, at this point, a pretty good major league hitter, and we look forward to having him back as soon as possible.”

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