In an unfortunate age where baseball has lost legends left and right, one man stands alone: Willie Mays.
Since the start of 2020, 10 Baseball Hall of Famers, including Hank Aaron and many others from Mays' playing days, have passed away. Mays remains, as the oldest living Hall of Famer after turning 90 years old on Thursday.
Mays being the oldest living Hall of Famer is just another example of his greatness at any age. His unmatched baseball career began in 1948 for the Birmingham Black Barons before joining the New York Giants at 20 years old in 1951, where he hit 20 home runs as the NL Rookie of the Year.
His career then was halted by serving two years for the United States Army in the Korean War before returning to the Giants in 1954. He won his first NL MVP that season at 23 years old, hitting .345 with 45 home runs, 13 triples, 33 doubles, 110 RBI and 119 runs scored.
Mays hit .315 and averaged 39 home runs, 25 stolen bases, 109 RBI and 118 runs scored between 1955 and 1964 for the Giants, but didn't win a single MVP in that span. He won his second MVP at 34 years old in 1965 when he hit .317 with a career-high 52 home runs, 112 RBI and 118 runs scored.
On Thursday morning, MLB tweeted out a happy birthday message from a long list of current stars, as well as Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr. and Joe Torre. The video began with Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts and ended with Giants icon Buster Posey.
Mays' impact breaks rivalries and extends to all ages. His greatness has been felt from Day 1 to turning 90.
There's only one Willie Mays. There always has been, and there always will be.