60 years ago today: Willie Mays debuts for New York Giants

5 Comments

May 25, 1951

Less than three weeks after his 20th birthday, Willie Mays makes his major league debut for the Giants, going 0-for-5 in New York’s 8-5 win over the Phillies.

Mays was called up after hitting an incredible .477/.524/.799 with eight homers and 30 RBI in 35 games for Minneapolis of the American Association.

The success didn’t immediately carry over, though.  Mays went hitless in each game of the series in Philadelphia, opening his career 0-for-12.  He homered off Warren Spahn in his fourth game, which was also his debut at the Polo Grounds.  However, that was his only hit through seven games and he was hitting .038 (1-for-26) as of June 2.

Mays got a whole lot better from there, of course.   He went on to win NL Rookie of the Year honors afer hitting .274/.356/.472 with 20 homers and 68 RBI in 121 games.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

Getty Images
8 Comments

In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.