Willie Mays’ wife has died at age 74 after 41 years of marriage. The baseball Hall of Famer announced the passing of his wife, Mae Louise Allen Mays, last night through the San Francisco Giants office on Friday.
According to the report, she had fought a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease but passed away peacefully in her sleep in their Bay Area home sometime Friday morning.
Mae and Willie Mays were married in 1971, but they actually met ten years earlier in 1961. Mays has written in his autobiography that he spotted her in a nightclub owned by basketball great Wilt Chamberlain.
When he called her with the phone number he got from Chamberlain and introduced himself as Willie Mays, the level-headed Mae replied, “I’m Martha Washington.”
Now 81, Willie Mays is recognized as one of baseball’s all-time greats and entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. He ended his career with 660 home runs — the fourth highest number of home runs achieved by any professional player in history. He enjoyed eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons — one of only five National League players to enjoy that record.
Perhaps his achievements are all the more remarkable because he accomplished it all before the era of modern sports training, equipment, or performance-enhancing drugs. Some people have argued that he was the greatest all-round player of all time.
He played for the New York Giants, the San Francisco Giants, and ended his career with the New York Mets in 1973.
In addition to being a supportive wife in a marriage spanning more than four decades, Mae Louise Allen Mays has been acknowledged for being a pioneer social worker who is recognized for her child welfare work in San Francisco.
On hearing the report that Willie Mays’ wife had died, the San Francisco Giants issued a statement offering their condolences to the baseball legend.
[photo President Barack Obama and Willie Mays on Air Force One courtesy Pete Souza and the White House Photostream]