Say Hey: Willie Mays or Barry Bonds?
Dec 10, 2010Posted by james

During the surprising and exciting season-ending surge by the San Francisco Giants that created a fun ride for the team’s fans through the playoffs and the World Series, I started to think about who should be considered the historical face of the franchise.

For fans over 80, along with many baseball historians, the nod easily could go to Manager John McGraw, pitcher Christy Mathewson, or outfielder and slugger Mel Ott. They helped the Giants dominate the New York baseball scene for decades until they pushed the Yankees out as tenants at the old Polo Grounds. The acquisition of Babe Ruth may also have had something to do with the rise of the Yankee dynasty and the demise of the Giants in New York.

For those of us slightly younger but still over 50, I have found that Willie Mays mostly is considered to be Mr. Giant. One of the best players of his generation (if not the best), Mays is classified as one of the first “five-tool” players. He was able to hit for average, hit with power, run with speed, field his position and throw out runners for most of his career. He was the complete package in Giants cream, black and orange.

Fans under 50, I suspect, might tap Barry Bonds.

Certainly, many fans, especially Giants fans, were crazed about his monster home runs and the breaking of season and career home run records. He dominated the game for more than 10 seasons. Proof of this occurred when a manager intentionally walked Bonds with the bases loaded to force in a run rather than pitch to him and face his damage potential.

But, what was the cost of his success?

Allegations of steroids have tainted him and his career numbers. Ever since he was first marked with the steroid “S”, everything that has been written or reported about him and his statistics have referenced drug enhancement.

While the wild ride that many took with him as he clubbed those record breaking homers may have been enjoyable, it also was a record run that quickly became tarnished along the way. True baseball fans did not want Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s record, and many still question if the career home run record, or any baseball record, really has been broken during the steroid era.

I have always said that the lessons I learned in sports have been the foundation of my business success. Whether in sports, business, or anything else in life, each of us is given the opportunity to choose the path to our desired destination. The one that will be most rewarding personally is the same one that will garner the respect of family, peers and customers. The chosen path may contain many rules on road signs and many road blocks, but the open road also provides many opportunities for hard work that will refine raw talent.

In the long-term, shortcuts never are successful. To reach the Hall of Fame in sports or business, the best philosophy is to build a solid foundation, play by the rules, remain on the honest path to success and always play hard to win.

So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that my selection for the “face” of the Giants franchise, at least for the San Francisco version, is and always will be the Say Hey Kid.


1 Comment

  • By Peter J. Lee, January 1, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

    Willie Mays could be the greatest, but let’s recognize Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, and even Gaylord Perry. You are absolutely correct about playing by the rules. Sometimes playing by the rules might cause you to finish out of the lead, but it will always allow you to finish on top. The consequences of taking the “easy” way out are rarely easy…

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