Willie Mays puts Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle on bench
It was difficult to argue strongly with the first seven picks in the MSG series "The Lineup," which aims to name the best New York baseball player at every position.
But I have a problem with the pick in centerfield, announced Tuesday night.
Nothing against Willie Mays, but . . . he played only six seasons in New York with the Giants and another two with the Mets when he was far past his prime.
He should not have been picked over Joe DiMaggio or even Mickey Mantle.
(Yes, A-Rod has only been around for six years, but the alternatives at third base are not quite what they are in center.)
As it turns out, Mays won in a split decision that ultimately required a tiebreaking vote by Gary Carter.
Here's the entire MSG news release on this subject:
Last night, on the eighth episode of MSG’s “The Lineup: New York’s All-time Best Baseball Players ,” five center fielders – Earle Coombs, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider – were nominated for the final batters spot in “The Lineup.”
For the first time in the series, the show’s panel, which consists of Hall-of-Fame Mets catcher Gary Carter, former Yankees reliever Sparky Lyle, Executive V.P. of the Elias Sports Bureau Steve Hirdt, author Will Leitch, and host Fran Healy, was split between three different players as Carter selected Mantle, Lyle and Healy decided on Mays, and Hirdt and Leitch picked DiMaggio. With only one vote, Mantle was eliminated and Carter was left to break the tie. He chose the “Say Hey Kid,” making Willie Mays the best center fielder in the history of New York.
Bill Shannon, Baseball Historian:
“He (Joe DiMaggio) was the kind of a ball player that made everything look effortless…it was like he was playing in a tuxedo.”
Don Zimmer, Coach, NY Yankees, 1996-2003:
“He (Willie Mays) could have made the All-star team at any position he wanted to play, that’s how good an athlete he was.”
Tony Kubek, New York Yankees, 1957-65:
On Mickey Mantle: “I don’t know if there’s been a more dynamic player…hit the ball so far, run so fast, be so explosive in so many departments.”
Ralph Branca, Brooklyn Dodgers (1944-53):
“He (Joe DiMaggio) hit 325 home runs. You know what, had he played in Ebbets Field, he’d hit 500.”
Bert Sugar, Author:
“Tallulah Bankhead, the great actress, once said ‘there were two geniuses in history, Shakespeare and Willie Mays.’”
Well, at least I'm on the same page with Hirdt, who knows more about baseball history than I ever will - or ever care to.
Next week it's starting and relief pitchers. The latter is a no-brainer, obviously. The former is a little trickier, but Christy Mathewson has to get the nod over Tom Seaver and Whitey Ford.