Baseball world mourns death of Willie Mays

The Say Hey Kid's legacy was visible as his death was announced

Willie Mays' death was announced by the San Francisco Giants, his team of 21 seasons, at 5:52 p.m. PT Tuesday. What followed showed the full force of the legacy of not just as an inner-circle Hall of Famer but also an integral part of baseball's rich history.

Mays' death at 93 years old triggered a reaction across the baseball world, first hitting the Giants' broadcast.

"We are very sad now to relay this information that has just been released by the Giants, that the great Willie Mays has passed away," Giants play-by-play announced Jon Miller said. "Passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 93."

The Giants also included a statement from Mays' son, Michael, who thanked fans for the support they showed his father:

“My father has passed away peacefully and among loved ones,” said Michael Mays. “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart for the unwavering love you have shown him over the years. You have been his life’s blood.”

MLB quickly released a statement from commissioner Rob Manfred, saying, "[Mays'] incredible achievements and statistics do not begin to describe the awe that came with watching Willie Mays dominate the game in every way imaginable." It wasn't long before California Gov. Gavin Newsom followed with his own statement.

Former President Barack Obama, who awarded Mays the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, tweeted his praise as well:

Barry Bonds, for whom Willie Mays was godfather through his time playing alongside Bobby Bonds, responded on Instagram:

I am beyond devastated and overcome with emotion. 💔 I have no words to describe what you mean to me- you helped shape me to be who I am today. Thank you for being my Godfather and always being there. Give my dad a hug for me.

Rest in peace Willie, I love you forever. #SayHey ⚾️

Mays' death figures to weigh heavily on Thursday's MLB game at Rickwood Field. The Giants are scheduled to face the St. Louis Cardinals at the home of the Negro Leagues' Birmingham Black Barons, where Mays played before signing with the Giants in 1950. The Giants released a statement from Mays on Monday explaining that he would be unable to attend because "I don't move as well as I used to."

Rickwood Field was actually hosting a minor-league game between the Birmingham Barons (named after Mays' hometown team) and the Montgomery Biscuits when Mays' death was announced. The result was a standing ovation from a crowd that was momentarily stunned by the news:

MLB Network broadcaster Rich Waltz could be heard fighting his emotions as he read the Giants' announcement during the game.

Many, many more people responded over the ensuing hours. New York Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez, who watched Mays play during his brief career with the then-nascent Mets, was near tears as he recalled meeting the legend:

"I've been at Shea Stadium when he was younger, and I also was in his company when he was older and he was completely blind. What always came off, and he was the Say Hey kid, he had that ebullient personality, infectious and genuine. I got to tell him that he was the greatest player I ever saw."

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen also spoke of his time meeting Mays, who reportedly nicknamed the former MVP "Pittsburgh," via Andrew Destin of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Yeah, before there was Bonds and Griffey and all these guys and Stargell, it was Willie Mays. Willie Mays, he was the guy who before Rickey Henderson, before all these great center fielders even, there was Willie Mays. He was a pioneer for the game. He was a guy who was very fortunate to be on the Giants. And honestly, that was kind of one of the things that had me pretty excited going to the Giants was to know I was going to be around people like Willie McCovey and Willie Mays and Barry Bonds and those guys. So, his legacy is going to live on.

"Anyone who's ever come in contact with Mays for even a day, they're going to have a story. They're going to have something. My nickname was "Pittsburgh." That was my nickname to him. He'd always call me Pittsburgh. Paid attention to a lot of the games that we played in, talked to him every time I got the chance. I'm pretty sure every time. He probably got tired of me. But anytime I had an opportunity to be around him, I was going to be around him."

On social media, reactions included a number of Black baseball players as well as longtime San Francisco Chronicle Giants writer John Shea, who was a friend of Mays' and co-writer of his autobiography.