It Was Willie Mays Day, and the Fun Was Catching

Associated Press

Gov. George Deukmejian declared Monday to be Willie Mays Day in California in a light-hearted ceremony in Deukmejian’s Capitol office welcoming Mays back to the San Francisco Giants as a special assistant to the team president.

After Deukmejian presented a proclamation to Mays highlighting his “outstanding, fantastic career” in 22 seasons with the Giants in New York and San Francisco, a reporter asked the Republican governor if he had ever seen Mays play.

“I didn’t have enough money to go to games in those days,” Deukmejian replied, prompting Mays, who played from 1952 through 1973, to ask in mock horror: “How old do you think I am?”

Clowning for television and newspaper photographers, Mays briefly sat at Deukmejian’s desk, saying: “This is great. How long did it take to get here?”

The proclamation, which Mays accepted “on behalf of the ballclub,” cites his 660 home runs, 3,283 hits, 1,903 runs batted in and 6,854 putouts, and his off-the-field volunteer work with underprivileged children.