“Say hello, Willie Mays!” Review: The baseball great is drawn from an HBO documentary that makes a mistake


If you subscribe to the theory that Willie Mays was the greatest baseball player who ever lived, consider “Say Hello, Willie Mays!” extra ammunition for bar discussions, as well as a lot of fun. Throw in the fact that the 91-year-old Giants star lends his voice to the proceedings, and it’s a solid HBO documentary for anyone who loves the game, with one glaring flaw.

Winner of 12 Gold Gloves, 660 home run hitter, participant in a record 24 All-Star Games and recipient of President Obama’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, Mays was “the most spectacular baseball player to ever play “, he says. Reggie Jackson, as he made the late Dodgers announcer Vin Scully marvel: “”Most of us were absolutely blown away by his overall ability.”

Mostly raised by his aunts after his parents separated, Mays emerged from segregated baseball before the Giants poached him from the Negro Leagues. Mays immediately dazzled fans and was widely embraced by White America, so much so that director Nelson George was able to incorporate funny clips of her incongruous appearances into sitcoms like The Donna Reed Show.

At the same time, Mays received criticism for his reluctance to talk about civil rights, and eventually pioneer Jackie Robinson publicly accused Mays, who was “not outwardly political,” as Bob Costas puts it, of “only looking at the your safety.” like a big star.” This was true despite the racism Mays himself faced, which included initially being denied the opportunity to buy a house in a posh San Francisco neighborhood.

In addition to the pleasure of hearing Mays reminisce, George uses the format to offer a wealth of his exploits on the field, dissecting feats like the legendary over-the-shoulder catch of Vic Wertz’s fly ball during the Series Global from every angle imaginable. . “Say Hey” also deals with baseball-centric trivia, like the ill-chosen location of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, where high winds knocked down balls that would have been home runs elsewhere, dulling Mays’ stats.

So where is the error? Interviewees include Mays’ godson, Barry Bonds, and note that Mays was instrumental in bringing him to the Giants in 1993. While Bonds’ reflections on Mays’ talent are a welcome addition, they are not ‘ mentions the steroid scandal. it tarnished Bonds’ records and it has kept him and others out of the Hall of Fame, an omission worthy of an asterisk if ever there was one.

That aside, “Say Hello, Willie Mays!” he’s the kind of person who’s happy to help baseball fans through the postseason, giving Mays his due while he’s still around to take a bow. It’s a gift to baseball fans who saw him play before he hung up that gold glove nearly 50 years ago, and maybe even more to those who didn’t.

“Say hello, Willie Mays!” premieres Nov. 8 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. discovery

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