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Download Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend Audiobook, by James S. Hirsch Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (747 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James S. Hirsch Narrator: Michael Boatman Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2010 ISBN: 9780743599856
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Willie Mays is arguably the greatest player in baseball history, still revered for the passion he brought to the game. He began as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, became a cult hero in New York, and was the headliner in Major League Baseball’s bold expansion to California. He was a blend of power, speed, and stylistic bravado that enraptured fans for more than two decades. Now James Hirsch reveals the man behind the player.

Mays was a transcendent figure who received standing ovations in enemy stadiums and who, during the turbulent civil rights era, urged understanding and reconciliation. More than his records, his legacy is defined by the pure joy that he brought to fans and the loving memories that have been passed to future generations so they might know the magic and beauty of the game. With meticulous research and drawing on interviews with Mays himself as well as with close friends, family, and teammates, Hirsch presents a brilliant portrait of one of America’s most significant cultural icons.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Willie Mays is one of the most captivating figures in baseball history…I love Willie Mays because he played his game and lives his life with more than talent—he has the mind and heart of a champion.” 

    Bill Clinton

  • “Does a better job than any book before of getting at what it means to be Willie Mays.”

    Sports Illustrated

  • “It’s really a pleasure to read the true facts about the life and career of the greatest center fielder of all time.” 

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

  • “You can make a strong case for Willie Mays as the most complete player in baseball history. And now, at long last, here is the complete and definitive biography of the ‘Say Hey Kid.’” 

    Bob Costas

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 2/16/2014

    " Finally -- a great biography about Willie Mays, that brings out his character as well as his prowess as the greatest ballplayer. I grew up in the same part of the City where Willie Mays lived. We lived below Monterey Blvd., he lived above it. We would drive by his house countless times on the way to somewhere (usually the hospital). We used to go to ball games often. We loved Fan Appreciation Day, when the Giants would give away cars. Best of all, we loved watching Willie Mays play out in centerfield. We saw the greatest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn | 2/2/2014

    " Willie Mays has a new fan! I admire his style. He worked every angle to help his team win and did not just limit himself to his assigned position. Off the field he was exemplary as well. It was a long book but I enjoyed Willie's story! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bookmarks Magazine | 1/28/2014

    " The readers who seemed to appreciate Hirsch's biography the most were those who either had a personal connection to Mays's story or those who delight in baseball records and minutiae. The book is undoubtedly a must-read for anyone who is excited about an entire chapter devoted to the famous catch in the 1954 World Series (according to Mays himself, the catch was less impressive than the throw). But many reviewers felt the book dragged, either because of the vast detail or the digressions into contemporary American history. But all critics recognized Hirsch's achievement in producing a thorough biography of this major figure in sports history. This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom Buske | 1/17/2014

    " A superior biography of Willie Mays. It examines his life and puts it into the context of his times. Even though it is essentially told from Mays' point of view, it still comes across as extremely fair. Recommended for all fans of baseball and biography. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 1/15/2014

    " One of the best biographies --in any genre-- I've ever read. I wasn't certain that Hirsch's "what you see is what you get" thesis was going to hold up for 600 pages, but he gives us Mays's subtlety, intelligence and complexity in addition to some excellent social history. The chapter on the friction between Mays and Jackie Robinson during the civil rights struggle is especially thought-provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roger | 1/9/2014

    " Despite being a lifetime fan of Willie Mays, and seeing him play several times as a youngster, I never really knew who he was. James Hirsch does an excellent job telling the story of a man from a broken home in Alabama who rises to the heights of sports during the civil rights area. My respect for Mays and what he accomplished grew chapter by chapter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amatullah Richard | 12/22/2013

    " Great book. The book chronicles the good the bad and the ugly. Gives a great perspective on a man who is often misunderstood. Mays keeps his private life private. This hard working author worked to gain his trust, insight, and a perspective on one of the most amazing men to ever play baseball and certainly a man who's love for the game is unsurpassed. I wouldn't say the author is 100% objective. However, he is not judgmental and willing to offer different perspectives. He does a good job of relating the thrill of watching Mays' many outstanding performances on the field and off. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erik Bal | 12/6/2013

    " A very thorough biography of Mays. Very detailed coverage of his childhood in Alabama and early days in the minors and with the Giants. The author does rush through the later part of Mays' career and there is very little on what he has been doing since he left baseball. Overall, very enjoyable with great detail behind the iconic moments of Mays' career - his rookie season of 1951, The Catch, and the Giants move to San Francisco. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 12/5/2013

    " One of the best biographies I ever read. Couldn't put it down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom Kalinosky | 11/26/2013

    " Really liked this. Told me tons I didn't know about one of the best ball players of all time. I learned alot about baseball in the '50s, especially in New York, and a lot about characters I didn't know much about like Leo D. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Braque Hildreth | 11/5/2013

    " Great biography on a great player. Learned a lot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Estevan Alvarado | 10/12/2013

    " Great listen. If you are Willie Mays great book to listen to or read. Book discusses Willie Mays' life and baseball career. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris Marolt | 9/30/2013

    " A pro biography of one of the greatest. A compelling read. It did list the trials and tribulations of his life. One thing about the read - you could set it down for a few days and pick up where you left off. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Billy | 9/17/2013

    " Say Hey Kid "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michael | 9/9/2013

    " I truely wanted to like this biography of Willie Mays. I always loved him as a ball player and as a man. However, James Hirsch took all life out of the Say-Hey Kid. Boo "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Teresa | 8/24/2012

    " Loved reading about my childhood hero. I loved playing ball because of Willie Mays. I loved reading about his early days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 6/24/2012

    " You never know about a person until. Good story. Glad I read about him. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 3/20/2012

    " I like but baseball-but to coninue to finish this book-you need to LOVE baseball. The book started off fine-but I could not finish it. Too many references to baseball players from the past and I couldn't take it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ray Charbonneau | 2/13/2012

    " Reads strangely like a bio of a person long gone, not someone still alive. You'd expect more personal stories from an authorized bio of a living person. But then the book would have been even more massive :-) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick Eymer | 1/23/2012

    " Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player of all time. At least, it's true in my universe. Anything I can read about him gets my utmost attention. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kenneth May | 5/23/2011

    " A good book that goes into a lot of detail about this great ball player. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Csferguson222 | 4/10/2011

    " Willie Mays was my boyhood hero, and after reading his biography he's still a hero. A great portrait of an amazing player and a humble and amazing man, the amazing Willie Mays! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim and Popie Stafford | 3/14/2011

    " Only for real baseball fans. A well-done bio. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ted | 2/28/2011

    " He is/was a class act. I love this game. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 2/6/2011

    " Eh. Authorized biography - so it was limited. But, interesting read on the greatest baseball player who ever lived. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Csferguson222 | 12/28/2010

    " Willie Mays was my boyhood hero, and after reading his biography he's still a hero. A great portrait of an amazing player and a humble and amazing man, the amazing Willie Mays! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Larry | 11/1/2010

    " Everything you need to know about Mays. Fabulous ballplayer who played a few yrs too long. Controversy re civil rights. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mha Atma S | 9/28/2010

    " Excellent and fascinating biography of perhaps the greatest ballplayer ever and his place in the history of baseball and the U.S. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 9/22/2010

    " It was a very interesting book. The first half is very educational about baseball and the game in the 40-50's. The last half of the book gets a little slow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rcharbon | 9/14/2010

    " Reads strangely like a bio of a person long gone, not someone still alive. You'd expect more personal stories from an authorized bio of a living person. But then the book would have been even more massive :-) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 thomas | 8/5/2010

    " Just a great book. I'm prejudiced because WM is my idol but just to read about his life and times was wonderful. After you read this there will be no doubt that he is the best ever. Hirsch is a skilled author and doesn't shy from exposing some of WM's warts. "

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About the Author
James S. Hirsch is a journalist and New York Times bestselling author whose books include biographies of Willie Mays and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and examinations of military issues, the health care system, and global philanthropy. Hirsch won the Christopher Award for Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World?
About the Narrator

Michael Boatman is an Image Award–nominated actor and writer who is best known for his roles in the television series China BeachSpin City, and Arliss. He has also appeared in the major motion pictures The Peacemaker and Hamburger Hill. His audiobook narration has garnered seven AudioFile Earphones Awards and earned him the prestigious Audie Award in 2008 and 2010.