Monday, February 01, 2010

How Willie Mays Hustled Leo Durocher

Sure, Durocher Was a Father Figure, but Say, What the Hey, It's Just Money

Before he's going, going, gone, Willie Mays finally decided to cooperate with a biographer. It only took him to age 78 to realize this was a good idea, before more baseball fans than not had heard of him. Borderline blasphemy, I know, but these kids nowadays, no sense of history.
Anywhoo, Bruce Weber's story in yesterday's New York Times had an interesting nugget that will make "Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend" (out next Tuesday) a keeper if there are a lot more stories like the one about his first Giants' manager, Leo Durocher, who Mays regarded as a father figure.
To help keep Mays out of trouble, Durocher would have him room with his 7-year-old son Chris and look after him on the road. Chris told Dad he was eating a lot of soul food and Durocher gave wanted his son to eat steak.

"And I said, 'well give me steak money then.' And Leo would whip out four or five hundred and stick it in my pocket. And we'd go somewhere, and I'd ask Chris, 'you want a steak?' and he'd say 'No, I'll eat what you eat.' I never told Leo."

As anecdotes go, that's a home run. Let's hope there are another 659 like them in the book.

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