VIDEO: Howard Remembers ‘The Say Hey Kid’ Willie Mays

“What a phenomenal baseball player,” Howard says of the late 93-year-old superstar

June 24, 2024

Willie Mays, one of the all-time greatest players in baseball history, passed away last week at the age of 93. On Monday morning, Howard and Stern Show executive producer Gary Dell’Abate said goodbye to the so-called “Say Hey Kid,” who spent most of his three-decades-long career with the New York and San Francisco Giants before retiring with the Mets.

“What a phenomenal baseball player,” Howard said of Mays before playing clips of various broadcasters and ballplayers — like Hall of Famer and 2023 Stern Show guest Reggie Jackson — celebrating the late center fielder’s incomparable life and accomplishments.

“He [was] incredibly popular,” co-host Robin Quivers added of Mays.

When Willie retired in 1973, he’d amassed a whopping 660 home runs, 3,293 hits, two MVP awards, 12 Gold Gloves, and an astonishing 24 All-Star appearances. But Gary estimated his numbers would’ve been even more impressive if not for the U.S. Army drafting him to serve in the Korean War. “He probably is the greatest baseball player of all time. He had power, he had speed, he hit for average, he had a rocket for an arm. He held a lot of records, but he lost two years to the war,” Dell’Abate said, adding if not for that Mays “would have had the home run record and all sorts of records.”

Born and raised in a segregated Alabama, Willie began his professional career at the age of 14 as a member of the Negro League’s Birmingham Black Barons. Considering all the racism he’d faced in the Deep South, Howard marveled at his willingness to step away from the game and serve a country that had largely been intolerant of him.

“Imagine a guy who couldn’t even go to a hotel or restaurant … but yet he’s serving his country and lost two years off his career,” Howard concluded in awe.

Rest in peace, Willie.