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Extended Audio Sample Willie Mays Audiobook, by James S. Hirsch Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.08 out of 54.08 out of 54.08 out of 54.08 out of 54.08 out of 5 4.08 (25 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James S. Hirsch Narrator: Adam Grupper Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9781442342392
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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. Play after play, year after year, he thrilled us with his unmatched combination of speed and power, skill and daring. Hirsch tells us Willie’s compelling story, from his humblest of upbringings in Alabama to his rise, in the face of immense prejudice, to become one of Major League Baseball’s early African American players to his becoming an enduring American icon as the ‘Say Hey Kid.’ 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

  • “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, broadcaster, NBC Sports and Major League Baseball Network

  • “The definitive biography of one baseball’s immortals…With meticulous research, and drawing on interviews with Mays himself as well as with close friends, family, and teammates, Hirsch presents a complex portrait of one of America’s most significant cultural icons.” 

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • 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 Kate | 2/18/2014

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom Kalinosky | 2/2/2014

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kenneth May | 1/26/2014

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris Marolt | 1/24/2014

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Betty | 1/23/2014

    " This book went on my to read list after hearing Mr. Mays talk with John Stewart. I finally got around to reading it thinking that I might end up scanning quickly through some sections. NO WAY! I had trouble putting this book down and kept bubbling over to my family (who, fortunately, are also Giants fans) with Willie Mays stories. Great baseball book and a great history book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sally Grey | 1/21/2014

    " This book took me about a month to read, and I usually read five or six books in that time. It is chock full of facts and descriptions of great baseball. I wish I could go back in time and watch Willie Mays play baseball. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Justin Morgan | 1/17/2014

    " Loved this book. Wish i had been a baseball fanback in the 50's. Awesome book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 gina | 1/6/2014

    " Great read! I am a die hard Giants fan, and it was wonderful to read about the amazing Willie Mays. The nice thing about the beginning of the book was that it didn't take very long to get into when Willie started playing ball. There was just enough information about his childhood, and didn't go on excessively. All the information about what he did off field for children was really moving. It reads really fast, and I didn't want it to end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John Salois | 1/3/2014

    " 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 | 11/29/2013

    " 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! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 thomas | 4/12/2013

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin | 5/18/2012

    " While subtitled the The Life, The Legend. To me it felt that the author spent much more time adding to the legend of Willie Mays rather than revealing the true life behind the legend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 11/6/2011

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick Eymer | 10/19/2011

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 5/30/2011

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

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 4/1/2011

    " A little too positive. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bruce | 3/29/2011

    " For an animated guy that has lived an amazingly interesting life, this book is amazingly dull and uninspired. Some interesting insights and stories but on the whole an overwhelming disappointment. "

  • 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

Adam Grupper is a voice artist and actor. His audiobook narrations have earned six Earphones Awards and a nomination in 2008 for the prestigious Audie Award. His Broadway performances include Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme, 45 Seconds from Broadway, The Wild Party, Guys and Dolls, among others. He has appeared in films such as Trophy Kids, Music & Lyrics, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and Two Weeks’ Notice. On television, he has appeared in The Sopranos, Third Watch, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: SVU, Ugly Betty, and As the World Turns.