A blur on the base paths, Willie Mays stole 40 bases last year. This season, just past the halfway point, he has already stolen 27. Here, for the fans who love to watch him, is how it's done.
"When I'm going to steal, I never watch a pitcher's feet because they can fake you. I watch the way he moves his head and I always watch the ball. Left-handers are the toughest, especially the quick ones like Spahn and Haddix. But then there's one advantage; with a left-hander, you can watch his eyes."
"You've got to steal on the pitcher. Sure, it helps if the catcher can't throw too well, but up here you don't find many of that kind."
"When the pitcher is worried about you stealing, it helps the man at the plate, too, because the pitcher has to throw a fast ball. If he ever threw a curve or a change...well, I sure would like that."
"I've only stolen home once this year. That's pretty hard to do. I think it's easier to steal third than second; they can't hold you on as close because the batter might hit one through that big hole at short."
"I don't slide head first except when I think it's the only way I can make it. I only use the hook—the fadeaway—when the throw comes in high. Mostly I just try to get to the base as fast as I can and decide when I get there how I'm going to slide."
Desire to stretch single sends Willie swinging wide as he studies chances of beating throw to second
Daring unseen in National League since days of Max Carey, Frisch and Kiki Cuyler, plus extraordinary reflexes, give Willie a big jump even on left-handed pitchers like Curt Simmons, who normally have advantage over runner on first. Willie's mounting speed sends him cascading into second on his stomach as Granny Hamner loses the ball in a cloud of dust
Drive of a sprinter propels Willie, feet off ground and cap far behind, flying around third on way to bone-rattling score