Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

I am not a big sports fan, so when I saw the size of the biography Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend, I wavered. Then, opening the 628 page book and seeing the size of the print made me even more nervous. This book was going to take forever to read. But then, I read the prologue. In those seven pages, I saw that James S. Hirsch, the biographer, was a remarkable storyteller. Those seven pages made me realize that the 621 that followed wouldn’t be so bad.

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend begins with Mays’s childhood in Alabama and continues through his career with the Giants, his last seasons with the Mets, and on to his present life. As is expected (and preferred), the book focuses almost entirely on the baseball. Though Hirsch does touch on relevant parts of Mays’s personal life, his focus on the baseball matches the importance the game played in May’s life.

Throughout reading Willie Mays, I found it clear that Hirsch is an admirer and a fan. However, he did not turn his book into an adulation or let his admiration keep him from presenting Mays’s faults. Mays is a man who had almost super-human talents, and it was reassuring and humanizing to read some of his struggles and weaknesses.

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend is filled with baseball games from the era that baseball truly was America’s pastime. Even though I’m not a sports person, I found myself excited and eager to find out what plays Mays was going to make and whether or not the Giants would win the game.

I give Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend a 4/5. I recommend it to you especially if you are a baseball fan, but those, like me, who aren’t could definitely enjoy it. Know that it’s a large book that takes a long time to read, but that it is one so well-written that you don’t mind spending the time to read it.

Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Willie Mays

Buy the Book

Of course, the real question is what you think of Jon’s new beard. Personally, I’m not crazy about it. 2/5.

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