As keeper of Sports Illustrated's indispensable Vault, Andy Gray spends a lot of his time sifting through the sports photography of another time, when athletes wore short shorts and facial hair, and everyone looked vaguely uncomfortable. Here is one such photo.
As the trade deadline approaches, we look back to May 1972 when 41-year-old Willie Mays was shipped to the Mets in exchange for Charlie Williams and a cool $50K. It was a homecoming for Mays, who started his career with the New York Giants. The Big Apple rejoiced as celebrities, fans and sons of former presidents (such John F. Kennedy Jr., pictured here) flocked to see Gotham's newest hero. William Leggett described the scene:
Twice last week situations came up in which Berra could have used Mays as a pinch hitter if he had cared about the "We Want Willie" chanting of the crowd. Both times Willie stayed on the bench. At one point M. Donald Grant, the Mets' board chairman, who had worked out the details of the winning of Willie, leaned over the rail of his field box and peered into the dugout, obviously hoping to see Mays heading plateward. The pinch hitter he saw instead was John Milner. Forty-four thousand people booed. Yogi had decided before the game that Milner would be his first pinch hitter against right-handed pitching. Milner, who was hitting .357, dutifully got on base-via a walk-and then scored the winning run.