Baseball legend Willie Mays celebrates his 90th birthday: ‘He touched the kid in all of us’
MLB 

Happy 90th birthday today to the "Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays.

The Hall of Fame outfielder almost certainly holds the title of the greatest living baseball player after hitting 660 career home runs, winning a pair of MVP awards, plus 12 Gold Gloves and a World Series ring in his amazing 22-year MLB career.

However, what really made Mays special was his style and grace, both on and off the field. In the words of MLB Network's Willie Mays 90th birthday tribute that will be shown on the channel throughout the day: "He was born not just to play baseball, but to entertain."

The seven-minute feature was written by MLB Network's Tom Verducci and narrated by award-winning actor and lifelong Giants fan Danny Glover.

In addition to the many Mays highlights, it looks at his impact on baseball fans with the way he played the game with such flair — from his basket catches in the outfield to wearing a cap one size too small so it always flew off his head as he sped around the bases. 

"Like Pele, Gretzky, Jordan and Sayers, the aesthetic of Willie Mays is even larger than the career," Verducci writes.

Mays celebrates his 41st birthday in with a cake presented by the Phillies in 1972. (Photo: AP)

Even though he retired with the third highest home run total in baseball history, Mays wasn't built like a typical power hitter at just 5-feet, 10-inches tall and 170 pounds. A case can be made, and the video does, that Mays was the most powerful hitter ever for someone his size.

And when the greatest players got together every year, Mays was always front and center. He played in 24 All-Star Games (to match his uniform number) and was named MVP twice.

With his famous nickname, the "Say Hey" part is unique. And the most celebrated. But as Verducci reminds us, the "Kid" part was important too.

"Willie Mays loved baseball. He was born to play it. The wonder of Willie Mays is that it was not a solitary pursuit. He performed. He entertained. He gave joy. He touched the kid in all of us."

Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner

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