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WAMC Sports Report 6/19/24: Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ has died at 93

FILE - New York Giants' Willie Mays makes a catch of a ball hit by Cleveland Indians' Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 baseball World Series in New York's Polo Grounds on Sept. 29, 1954. Mays, the electrifying “Say Hey Kid” whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest and most beloved players, has died. He was 93. Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night, June 18, 2024, he had “passed away peacefully” Tuesday afternoon surrounded by loved ones. (AP Photo, File)
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AP
FILE - New York Giants' Willie Mays makes a catch of a ball hit by Cleveland Indians' Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 baseball World Series in New York's Polo Grounds on Sept. 29, 1954. Mays, the electrifying “Say Hey Kid” whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest and most beloved players, has died. He was 93. Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night, June 18, 2024, he had “passed away peacefully” Tuesday afternoon surrounded by loved ones. (AP Photo, File)

MLB

Willie Mays, baseball’s exuberant and electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ has died at 93. The Giants and Mays' family jointly announced his death. The Giants center fielder, with his signature basket catch, was one of the game’s greatest and most beloved players. He hit more than 600 home runs, totaled more than 3,000 hits and was a joy to behold in the outfield. His over-the shoulder catch of a long drive in the 1954 World Series is baseball’s most celebrated defensive feat. He had been baseball’s oldest living Hall of Famer.

Willie Mays raced at top speed back toward the center-field wall in the spacious Polo Grounds and somehow managed to track down and corral a fast-traveling ball with an over-the-shoulder catch that became the most iconic moment in the Hall of Famer’s decorated career that featured 660 home runs. It simply became known as “The Catch.” The play showed off the mesmerizing skill of one of the most talented players ever to step on a baseball field and was considered by many to be the Greatest Living Ballplayer before he died at age 93.

NHL

Connor McDavid had two goals and two assists that added to his historic postseason, Evan Bouchard added three assists and the Edmonton Oilers fended off elimination yet again by beating the Florida Panthers 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night. Connor Brown, Zach Hyman and Corey Perry also had goals for the Oilers, who scored the game’s first three goals to take control — then held on late to cut Florida’s lead in the title series to 3-2. Evan Rodrigues and Matthew Tkachuk each had a goal and an assist for Florida, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson also scored for the Panthers. Game 6 is in Edmonton on Friday night.

Connor McDavid said the Edmonton Oilers wanted to drag the Florida Panthers back to Alberta. Then he made it happen to keep the Stanley Cup Final going. McDavid scored twice, including an empty netter, and set up two goals as the Oilers won Game 5 on Tuesday night 5-3. The victory set up a Game 6 Friday night in Edmonton. They became the first team since the New Jersey Devils in 2012 and fourth in NHL history to fall behind 3-0 in the final and win the next two games of the series.
     
MLB

Pete Alonso hit a tiebreaking double in the ninth inning and the New York Mets extended their winning streak to a season-best seven games by rallying late for a 7-6 victory over the slumping Texas Rangers. Texas had a 6-2 lead after a five-run fifth, but the Mets scored in each of the last five innings. Mark Vientos and Brandon Nimmo homered for New York. After Nimmo’s one-out walk in the ninth off closer Kirby Yates, J.D. Martinez reached on a catcher’s interference call and Alonso doubled into the left-field corner. Josh Smith and Wyatt Langford went deep in the Rangers' fifth consecutive loss.

Aaron Judge was hit on the left hand by a pitch during the New York Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, but it appears he escaped serious injury in a series opener between the American League’s winningest teams. Judge was struck by a 94.1 mph fastball from Albert Suárez in the third inning. The slugger initially remained in the game but was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fourth. Judge went to a hospital and says X-rays and a CT scan were negative.

Ceddanne Rafaela had three hits, including a tiebreaking single in the eighth-inning, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 to earn a third straight series win. Tyler O’Neill homered and scored twice and Rafael Devers had two hits as the Red Sox won for the seventh time in nine games. Boston arrived in Toronto after taking two of three from Philadelphia and the New York Yankees, both division leaders. Red Sox right-hander Zack Kelly (1-1) got four outs for the win. Boston improved to 35-8 when scoring four runs or more.

Nick Castellanos hit a bloop ground-rule double down the right field line to cap four consecutive ninth-inning hits and the Philadelphia Phillies rallied from a two-run deficit for a 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres. Kyle Schwarber hit an eighth inning solo home run for the Phillies. The Padres have now lost five in a row. Jeff Hoffman (3-0) got the win while the Padres’ Robert Suarez (4-1) blew his first save in 19 opportunities this season. Luis Campusano had a two-run homer off Aaron Nola to kick start San Diego’s sixth inning that gave them a 3-1 lead.

Nick Lodolo allowed one run in seven innings to win a fifth straight start, Santiago Espinal hit a two-run homer and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1. Lodolo (8-2) struck out eight without issuing a walk and gave up four hits. Espinal put the Reds ahead in the fifth inning, driving a fastball from Bailey Falter just over a leaping Bryan Reynolds at the wall. Alexis Díaz struck out one in a perfect ninth inning for his 16th save. Falter (3-5) surrendered two runs on seven hits in seven innings.

Spencer Schwellenbach earned his first major league win and Ozzie Albies delivered a key hit for the second straight game as the Atlanta Braves downed the Detroit Tigers 2-1. The Braves also beat the Tigers 2-1 on Monday in the series opener. Schwellenbach had his best outing since being called up from the minors on May 29, allowing one run and three hits over six innings. He struck out seven and walked two in his fourth career start. Raisel Iglesias earned his 18th save in 20 chances. Albies, who hit a tiebreaking homer Monday, was 1 for 4 with an RBI triple and a run scored as the Braves won for the fifth time in six games. Marcell Ozuna also went 1 for 4 with an RBI.

Sal Frelick robbed Taylor Ward of a tying home run with a leaping catch in center field for the final out of the Milwaukee Brewers’ 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels staged a three-run rally in the ninth inning and then got two more runners on base, bringing closer Trevor Megill into the game as Milwaukee's third reliever of the inning. Ward drove a 384-foot fly to center, but Frelick confidently stepped back and made a one-handed grab on the warning track. Christian Yelich hit his 200th career homer and rookie Tobias Myers pitched scoreless ball into the seventh inning for the Brewers.

J.P. Crawford hit a two-run homer, Luke Raley and Dylan Moore added solo shots and the Seattle Mariners stayed baseball’s hottest team with an 8-5 win over the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians. With their fourth straight win and eighth in nine games, the Mariners improved to an MLB-best 17-5 since May 26. Seattle began a nine-game trip on top of the AL West by nine games — the largest lead in any division. Crawford homered in the third inning off Triston McKenzie and added an RBI double in the fourth. Cleveland’s Steven Kwan reached base for the 23rd straight game and extended his hitting streak to 12 in a row with a single in the eighth.

Jonathan Cannon pitched seven-hit ball into the ninth inning in his first major league win, helping the Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros 2-0. Cannon, a third-round pick in the 2022 amateur draft, struck out four and walked one. He threw 106 pitches, 70 for strikes, in his fifth career start and sixth appearance overall. Cannon received a warm ovation when he departed after Jon Singleton and Mauricio Dubón singled with two outs in the ninth. John Brebbia then retired Victor Caratini on a grounder to first for his second save of the season.

Carlos Santana’s pinch-hit single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning pushed the Minnesota Twins past the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6 for their sixth straight victory following an hour-plus rain delay. The Twins have won eight of their last nine games and have double-digit hits in each game on the winning streak. Max Kepler homered and Ryan Jeffers hit a sacrifice fly for the Twins to tie it in the fifth. Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe hit home runs in the top of the inning for the Rays on each side of the stoppage that lasted 1:23.

Zack Gelof hit his first home run in nearly three weeks and the Oakland Athletics beat the Kansas City Royals 7-5 to end a nine-game losing streak. JJ Bleday had a career-high three doubles and drove in two runs, and Miguel Andujar added two hits to help Oakland to its first win since June 7. The last-place A’s have the fourth-worst record in the majors at 27-48. Nick Loftin hit his first career home run and had three RBIs for the Royals, who have lost three of four.

Ketel Marte homered, Slade Cecconi pitched six sharp innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Washington Nationals 5-0 in the opener of a three-game series. Corbin Carroll reached base four times and scored twice for Arizona, which has won six of eight to improve to 36-37. The defending NL champion Diamondbacks have not been this close to .500 since they were 12-13 on April 23. CJ Abrams extended his hitting streak to 11 games for Washington, which was limited to four hits and had its three-game winning streak snapped.

Vidal Bruján drove in the winning run with a single in the 10th inning and the Miami Marlins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 to snap a six-game skid. Nick Gordon reached on a one-out infield single against Chris Roycroft (1-1) that advanced automatic runner Jesús Sánchez to third. Tim Anderson followed with an RBI infield single, tying it at 8-all. Otto Lopez’s groundout advanced Gordon and Anderson before Bruján's liner to center field gave Miami its sixth walk-off win of the season. Sánchez homered, doubled and singled, while Christian Bethancourt also went deep for the Marlins. Paul Goldschmidt, Brendan Donovan and Alec Burleson homered for the Cardinals.

Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ and Christopher Morel drove in go-ahead runs with singles in Chicago’s three-run eighth inning and the Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2 to end a two-game slide. Dansby Swanson hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, who won for just fourth time in 12 games. Tyson Miller (2-0) got four outs in relief of Justin Steele for the win. Keegan Thompson struck out the side in the ninth for his first save. Curt Casali had two hits and two RBIs for the Giants, who announced the death of Hall of Famer Willie Mays. The legendary outfielder played 22 seasons with the team, first in New York and then when the franchise moved to San Francisco.

Jason Heyward hit a pinch-hit grand slam and Teoscar Hernandez added a three-run homer — all in a seven-run ninth inning — as the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for an 11-9 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night. Shohei Ohtani had a 476-foot homer in the fifth inning for the Dodgers off Victor Vodnik, who took the loss. Michael Petersen worked two innings of relief and struck out two for the win. Elehuris Montero and Brenton Doyle homered for the Rockies, who scored four runs in the first and twice led by five runs.

Yankees star Aaron Judge says X-rays and a CT scan were negative after he was hit on the left hand by a 94-mph fastball from Albert Suárez, forcing the slugger out of New York’s 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Judge says he's feeling better after getting some good news. He calls it “a big relief” and says: "Finding out that it’s not fractured, not broken, is definitely a sigh of relief.”

WNBA

Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi each scored 19 points to lead six Phoenix players in double figures and the Mercury beat the New York Liberty 99-93. Griner made a layup to give Phoenix a 92-89 lead and she blocked a Breanna Stewart shot at the other end. Taurasi added a 3-pointer to make it 95-91 and Griner put back her own miss with 29.1 seconds left to restore a four-point advantage. The teams combined to make a WNBA record 33 3-pointers, on 72 attempts, with New York tying the franchise record of 18. Stewart scored 28 points and Sabrina Ionescu had 19 points for New York.

DeWanna Bonner scored 16 points, Alyssa Thomas had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and the Connecticut Sun beat the short-handed Los Angeles Sparks 79-70. The game was marred by an apparent knee injury to Los Angeles rookie Cameron Brink. Brink, the No. 2 overall pick in the WNBA draft, fell awkwardly on a drive to the basket in the first quarter and did not return. Connecticut (13-1) is off to its best 14-game start in franchise history. All five Sun starters scored in double figures including Tyasha Harris had 14 points. Aari McDonald led Los Angeles (4-11) with 14 points.

Not even a WNBA basketball game is an escape from the arguments and polarization that are so common in American life these days. Some of the atmosphere in the public and media that has swirled around the professional women’s league since the season started last month has been less fun time and more culture war. Rookie Caitlin Clark is the eye of the storm. The white, 22-year-old number one draft pick has become a canvas for all sorts of projections in her debut season with the Indiana Fever. She, and the predominantly Black and brown women in the league, have become proxies for longstanding American issues including race, gender, who's in the spotlight and who is ignored.

NFL

Kansas is making a serious run at becoming the new home for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. State legislators approved a plan Tuesday for luring both the Chiefs and Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals away from Missouri. Bipartisan legislative supermajorities OKed a measure to authorize state bonds to help finance new stadiums and practice facilities for both teams on the Kansas side of the metropolitan area. The plan goes next to Gov. Laura Kelly. He has not promised to sign it but said in a statement that Kansas could become a professional sports powerhouse. Both teams said they look forward to considering Kansas options.

OLYMPICS

Regan Smith has set a world record in the women's 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Indianapolis. Smith touched in 57.13 seconds, easily beating the mark of 57.33 set a year ago by Australia’s Kaylee McKeown. Smith bounced back emphatically after getting edged for a spot on the U.S. team in the 100 butterfly, where she finished third behind Gretchen Walsh and Torri Huske. No one was beating Smith in her signature event. Katharine Berkoff claimed the second Olympic spot with a time of 57.91. In the night's other final, reigning Olympic champion Bobby Finke won the 800 freestyle, holding off teenager Luke Whitlock.

NBA

In the NBA, it’s already next season. The offseason, technically, might have lasted for only about an hour. The Boston Celtics won the NBA Finals on Monday night, and when the clock rolled over to Tuesday morning, teams — in many cases — could start talking to their own free agents. The on-court games are over. Let the off-court games begin. The only real certainties are these: There are 29 teams chasing the Boston Celtics, and everyone is looking to get better. It starts with the draft, then free agency, and plenty of people around the NBA think this will be a summer filled with trades as well.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

All 24 teams have now played and all 10 host cities have now staged games at the European Championship in men's soccer. It has been a good one so far on the field, if not for Kylian Mbappé who broke his nose. Host Germany started with a rout of Scotland conducted by Toni Kroos who came out of international retirement for this. The 34 goals came early and often from long distance. Off the field, players engaged explicitly in politics, while late and overloaded public transport frustrated fans who were vibrant at the 12 games. Just five days gone, 26 left.

© 2024 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.