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How Willie Mays Learned to Handle Pitchers

Early in his career while playing for the Black Barons in Birmingham, Willie Mays hit a home run off Chet Brewer. The next time up the veteran pitcher drilled him in the arm with a fastball. No ball had ever hit him so hard. Mays crumpled to the ground and began to cry.

When he looked up Barons’ player-coach Piper Davis was glowering over him and kicked him.

“Skip, they’re throwing at me, Mays said.

“Boy, you see first base?” said Davis

“Yes, sir.”

“Point to it.”

“It’s right down there,” said Mays, motioning down the line.

“Then get up and go down there, and the first chance you get you steal second, then third.”

Davis then turned and walked back to the dugout and Mays trotted down to first.

He stole second and then third and scored on a fly ball.

Back in the dugout, Davis said, “That’s how you handle a pitcher.”

From Willie Mays, The life and Legend by James S Hirsch