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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Willie Mays Welcomes Us to Spring Training

New York Giants centerfielder Willie Mays has just won the MVP award, just won the World Series and just made The Catch that will live forever. He is the best player in baseball and by March of 1955, possibly its most famous. Yet amid the rites of Spring Training, the future Met is as accessible to a kid in search of an autograph as any ballplayer, which is to say very much so. No wonder so many kids — all eras, all ages — love the day pitchers, catchers and legends in the making report.

Photo courtesy of Americana the Beautiful: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome by Charles Phoenix, a pretty a-Mays-in’ book in its own right.

7 comments to Willie Mays Welcomes Us to Spring Training

  • Anonymous

    Greg,
    In 1955 Jim Crow laws were still in their glory and since that was Florida, how do we know poor Willie wasn't being forced to take down a fast food order for a red neck kid?

  • Anonymous

    One word: Arizona. (Two more words: Cactus League.)

  • Anonymous

    Those laws applied in Arizona, too.

  • Anonymous

    We have photographic evidence that Willie and that kid didn't care.

  • Anonymous

    My dad worked for the NYPD, and in '76 or '77, the Police Department was using some offices inside Shea Stadium for a training exam. A co-worker of my dad's, Artie, who was not a sports fan, was in charge of the sign-in table.
    A black man in his late 40's came shuffling by the table, and Artie held up the sign-in sheet. “Here you go – sign this, please.” The man turned the sheet over, and started to sign his name on the clean white back of the sheet.
    Artie yelled, “Whoa! What are you doing? Sign in on the front like everyone else!”
    The man said, “I thought you wanted my autograph.”
    “Autograph? I don't even know who the heck you are!”
    And a bewildered Willie Mays shuffled off…

  • Anonymous

    Maybe the only scenario in the history of Shea Stadium in which Willie Mays couldn't get arrested!

  • Anonymous

    All joking aside, couldn't agree with you more!