WILLIE MAYS Q&A
By STEFAN STEVENSON
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
DALLAS -- Willie Mays was the featured guest at the SMU Athletic Forum luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Wednesday, but he didn't want to talk about Barry Bonds.
While Mays, 76, had an amiable chat with Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel in front of the 950 in attendance, the legendary baseball player wasn't saying anything about Bonds.
The most interesting moment came at the conclusion of the interview when Nadel made it clear to the audience that questions about Bonds were off-limits. Mays took exception to that and tried to clarify.
"Barry is my godson," he said. "I can't talk about Barry because of the investigation. I don't want to get into trouble with the government. I hope you understand. I'm not trying to duck anything."
Other highlights from Nadel's conversation with Mays:
On "The Catch" in the '54 World Series ...
"I made a couple of catches better than that, but people identify with that catch because in my time we didn't have television like ... today."
In the top of the eighth inning of Game 1, the score was tied 2-2 and Cleveland hitter Vic Wertz came to the plate with runners at first and second and no outs.
"When he hit the ball, as I was running, I wasn't worried about catching the ball. I was worried about getting the ball back into the infield. I said to myself, 'If I don't catch this ball, they're going to score two runs.' So as I caught the ball, I made a 360 and got the ball back into the infield and they didn't score. I think that was the one that got me over the hump."
The Giants won the game and swept the Series in four games.
On a better catch ...
In a regular-season game against the Dodgers in 1954, "Bobby Morgan hit a ball over shortstop and I knocked myself out."
Mays caught the line drive, slid onto the outfield warning track and was knocked unconscious.
"When I came to, there were two guys there -- Jackie Robinson and [manager] Leo [Durocher]. I said I know why Leo is out here. He wants to see if I'm OK. Jackie said, 'I'm out here to see if you caught the ball.' I can't tell you what I told him... all kinds of names."
On his basket-catch style ...
"The basket catch started when I went to the Army in 1952. I said to myself I have to show the team something when I come back. So when I got back, Leo saw me do it and he said, 'You can do it, as long as you don't miss one. I missed one and Leo charged me $500 and he said the next one would cost me $1,000. I asked Leo, 'How am I going to get this money back? Because if you don't give me the money back, I'm going to be sick next year.' I had 50 home runs the year before, so they couldn't fire me. And I got all that money back."
On the Giants' move from New York to San Francisco ...
"In those days, you didn't have a choice. You had to go where the team had to go. It was OK, but I didn't want to leave New York. When you play and you play pretty good, New York is the place to play."
On facing Sandy Koufax ...
"I was so glad when Yom Kippur came around. I'd always ask when his days off were because I knew I'd get some hits if he wasn't pitching."