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‘Say Hey, Willie Mays!’ overview: The baseball nice will get his due from an HBO documentary that makes one error


If you subscribe to the idea that Willie Mays was the best baseball participant who ever lived, contemplate “Say Hey, Willie Mays!” extra ammunition for bar arguments, in addition to a complete lot of enjoyable. Throw in the truth that the 91-year-old Giants all-star lends his voice to the proceedings, and it’s a strong HBO documentary for anybody who loves the sport, with one evident error.

The winner of 12 golden gloves, slugger of 660 homeruns, participant in a record-tying 24 All-Star Games, and recipient of the presidential medal of freedom from President Obama, Mays was “the most spectacular baseball player that ever played,” says Reggie Jackson, whereas prompting the late Dodgers announcer Vin Scully to marvel, “”Most of us have been completely blown away by his total potential.”

Largely raised by his aunts after his dad and mom cut up up, Mays got here out of segregated baseball earlier than the Giants poached him from the Negro League. Mays instantly dazzled followers and was broadly accepted by White America, a lot in order that director Nelson George can incorporate amusing clips of his incongruous appearances on sitcoms like Donna Reed’s present.

At the identical time, Mays drew criticism for his unwillingness to talk out relating to civil rights, finally prompting the trailblazing Jackie Robinson to publicly accuse Mays – who “wasn’t outwardly political,” as Bob Costas says – of “looking only to his security as a great star.” That was true regardless of the racism that Mays himself confronted, which included being initially denied the chance to purchase a home in a fancy San Francisco neighborhood.

In addition to the pleasure of listening to Mays reminisce, George makes use of the format to supply a bounty of his on-field exploits, dissecting feats just like the legendary over-the-shoulder catch of Vic Wertz’s fly ball in the course of the World Series from each conceivable angle. “Say Hey” additionally offers with baseball-centric trivia just like the poorly chosen location of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, the place excessive winds knocked down balls that might have been homeruns elsewhere, blunting Mays’ stats.

So the place’s the error? Those interviewed embrace Mays’ godson, Barry Bonds, and be aware that Mays performed a pivotal function in bringing him to the Giants in 1993. Yet whereas Bonds’ reflections on Mays’ abilities show a welcome addition, there’s conspicuously no point out of the steroid scandal that tarnished Bonds’ information and that has stored him and others out of the Hall of Fame, a asterisk-worthy omission if there ever was one.

Setting that apart, “Say Hey, Willie Mays!” is the sort of deal with to assist tide over baseball followers via the post-season, giving Mays his due whereas he’s nonetheless round to take a bow. It’s a present for baseball followers who noticed him play earlier than he hung up that golden glove practically 50 years in the past, and perhaps much more so, for many who didn’t.

“Say Hey, Willie Mays!” premieres November 8 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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