Dean Clough

June 19, 2024

Portico Darwin: RIP An American Hero, Willie Mays


3 Minute Read

I can make the argument that Willie Mays is the American icon.  As you may know, he passed yesterday, at age 93.  I cried.  

I am doing something I have not done to date in these august pages, that being repeating a previous post.  Here is the genius of Willie Mays, in his own words, which I originally published a little more than 2 years ago.

Say Hey (9/26/2022)

One of the books I read while away on vacation was "24", subtitled "Life Stories and Lessons from The Say Hey Kid".  For you non-sports fans out there, it is a kinda biography of the best baseball player of all time, Willie Mays.  "24" was the number Mays wore throughout most of his career.

But this isn't a baseball post; instead, what follows are the life lessons that lead off each of the book's 24 (clever!) chapters.

I will note that, while I knew he was a pretty awesome cat, the book illuminated just how significant he was, in and out of the baseball stadiums he dominated.  His influence was broad and deep.

An example.  The chapter with him and President Obama on Air Force One brought tears to my eyes:  despite the worst resistance, those two men made it to the literal mountaintop.  And Obama wanted to meet his hero, and did.

It's a Killer book, about a Diamond Certified man.  The world would be better with more like him.

I give you the wisdom of the great, great Willie Mays.  Boldface absolutely intended.

1.  People judge you all kinds of ways.  Let them say what they want.  Be your own judge.  Trust your heart.

2.  Be open to learning from your parents and understanding where they're coming from.  They can help you if you let them.

3.  We can't forget what got us here.  The Negro Leagues are long gone, but we need to keep them alive, keep them in our classrooms, an important part of the fight for integration.

4.  Nobody should be insulted or bullied.  There's no place for that.  We need to treat people right.  It makes it better for everybody. 

5.  It's important to have people you can look up to and trust.  If you can listen and learn, it'll help forever.

6.  Have fun with everything you do.  Be comfortable.  No need to act like you're somebody else.  Be yourself.  That's good enough.

7.  Be confident you'll do what you set out to do because confidence is the key.  Know you'll get it done.  Never lose sight of your dream.

8.  Friends can mean everything.  Have fun and laugh with them.  You want to keep them close.

9.  Life takes you many places.  Make the best of any situation.  Complaining doesn't help.  You've gotta adjust and make it work for you.

10.  Push to get the most out of your ability in whatever you do and feel good about yourself for getting the job done every day.

11.  If you give your best effort, don't get down on yourself if things don't work out.  Be happy with yourself and move on.

12.  Sometimes you're asked to do more than you expect.  Take it on.  Keep going.  Keep being strong.

13.  Keeping the right attitude in high times and low times makes a big difference.  Any position you're in, stay upbeat, make the best of it, and enjoy it.

14.  Try to avoid conflict, racially and otherwise, by being reasonable, being cool.  I've heard it all.  All the insults.  Be bigger than that.  Keep it clean on the field and off.

15.  If you leave a place, there's a chance someday you could go back, so keep it positive just in case.

16.  You can reach new heights when you put your heart and mind into it.

17.  Make a difference by teaching kids how to respect people of all backgrounds and races.  Set an example so they can set an example.

18.  Anything's possible, man.  Don't believe otherwise.  

19.  It's good to be well-rounded and balanced with how you live.  It's the same in baseball.

20.  Keep your body in shape and also your mind.  Believe in yourself, think straight, and carry it out.

21.  In baseball, the ultimate is winning.  Stats are a big part of the game.  You try to put up numbers.  But I played to help my team win, not to put up numbers.

22.  I encourage all kids to go to college, something I didn't have a chance to do.  Do all you can to stay in school and learn about taking care of yourself by studying business or taking up a trade or finding a passion.

23.  You want to help people.  You want to help kids.  If you've gone through something they're going through, you can be there for them.  It can be a big difference.

24.  Praise kids when they do the right thing and lead by example.  You do the right thing, they'll do the right thing.

RIP to the best baseball player, and one of the best people, of all time.  There will never be another Willie Mays.


Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


Who better to honor America's best baseball player than our best musician, with perhaps the best jazz album ever made?  Here is Miles Davis and Kind of Blue.

About Dean Clough