On September 29, 1954, New York Giant centerfielder Willie Mays made what is still considered by many the greatest single defensive play in World Series history. With the scored tied 2 – 2 in the top of the eighth inning of Game One in that year’s Fall Classic, Mays made an over the shoulder catch of an estimated 440 foot line drive hit by Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians. Mays then made an immediate 180 degree turn to make a strong, accurate relay throw back to the infield to keep the Indians’ runner on second from scoring and the one on first base from advancing. Mays’ catch was the key play that kept the Indians from scoring that inning.
The Giants won the game 5 – 2 on a three run home run by Dusty Rhodes in the bottom of the tenth inning. They went on to win the World Series against the heavily favored Indians, winners of 111 regular season games, four games to none.
With the explosive growth television just beginning in 1954, an estimated 23 million viewers saw Willie Mays make that catch. It was the most definitive play of his illustrious career that made him more than just a Hall of Famer, but a baseball legend.
The Giants 1954 World Series Championship was a great ending for Mays’ great season. He hit .345, winning the National League Batting Title, with 41 home runs and 110 RBIs. He was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player, the first of two times in his career.
Along with Willie Mays, who were the other former Negro League players in the 1954 World Series?