Major League Baseball just announced that it has renamed the World Series Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Willie Mays. Beginning with the 2017 World Series, the MVP of the Fall Classic will now be recognized as the “Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player.”
The announcement comes on the 63rd anniversary of “The Catch” Mays made in the 1954 World Series on a deep fly ball off of Vic Wertz in the Polo Grounds. The throw that came after it was almost as amazing. As was the fact that the Giants beat a 111-win Cleveland Indians team in four straight games.
There was no World Series MVP Award that year. It officially began in 1955, though the BBWAA’s Babe Ruth Award for the best postseason performance dates back to 1949. It still exists too but, unlike most other awards in which the BBWAA honor is seen as more prestigious than the MLB honor, no one really cares much about that while many fans can name multiple World Series MVP winners. It probably has to do with the fact that the World Series MVP Award is handed out the night of the final game of the World Series when everyone is excited whereas the Babe Ruth Award is given out weeks later after everyone is in offseason mode.
Some irony about it all? The Catch notwithstanding, Willie Mays was actually pretty terrible in the World Series. He hit a combined .239/.308/.282 in four World Series, and his teams lost three of those four Series. We’ll let that slide, though, because (a) he’s Willie Freakin’ Mays; and (b) The Catch is something far better-remembered than whoever had a great batting line in any given World Series.