The game of baseball has lost a lot of Hall of Famers over the past year. On Friday afternoon, the greatest living ballplayer paid tribute to another longtime friend who had passed away. In a statement released through the Giants, Willie Mays remembered Hank Aaron, who died at the age of 86, as a "great ballplayer" who was humble off the field and "simply a good guy."
For three decades, Aaron and Mays stood just about alone in MLB history. Aaron was the all-time home run king. Mays ranked third, with a reputation as the best all-around player the game had seen.
Aaron made his debut in 1954, when Mays was en route to his first MVP award. The two would play together in the All-Star Game the next season, and every year after that through 1972, Mays' second-to-last season. Mays finished fourth when Aaron won his lone MVP in 1957, and when Aaron won his three Gold Gloves early in his career, Aaron was listed alongside him every time.
Earlier Friday, the Giants and Barry Bonds sent out their own messages honoring Aaron.