The Say Hey Id: Willie Mays Was A Reluctant Letter-Writer, But He Longed For Love

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Here's one of Willie Mays's charming love letters to his then-girlfriend, former beauty queen Gladys Cofield. This would've been in the first half of the 1950s, though the exact date isn't clear. At the time, Mays was smitten with the former Jet covergirl and fawned over the pretty photographs she sent him as he traveled the country to play baseball. Mays is no John Donne, but you will see courtship techniques here that many years later would be attempted by a teenage Michael Jordan, whose letters to his high school sweetheart were unleashed to the internet in late June.

Mays, like Jordan, took to passive-aggressive gamesmanship to court young Gladys. And just like the cocky Jordan, Mays also included a "(smile)", which appears to be the winking emoticon of choice for lovesick athletes in bloom. Willie's love for Gladys has been excavated many times — though this particular letter hasn't been made public until now — and Cofield even received an acknowledgement in the recent Mays biography. But if Willie ever felt like rekindling this relationship, he wouldn't have to struggle with the pen but just reach out to her on Facebook. Just don't poke her too much, Willie, just in case she decides to sue.


Click and watch it grow.

The letter is addressed to Gladys Cofield, 3407 Hickory, St Louis, Mo. Here's a rough transcription. [Sic] it throughout.

Willie Mays
New York Giants
Polo Grounds N.Y.

Hello Baby,

I sorry I haven't wrote for a while. Gee the picture was a fine one. I like it very much. I think your love is the really thing now. But at first I did think you could love me after the way you did me the first time I saw u.

All the boys saw the sweet picture & gee all like it just as much as I did. I think we would have a really good time when I come there if you just be good to me. I think you know the date we be there. [Illegible] you don't know it May (6.)

I know you think I don't love you because I don't write much. You see I don't like to write much so it take me a little while to ans. (Smile)

I wont you to sent me you phone # because it was on the picture & left it a home. I going to call you the day I get there. We might get there on the 5.

I know this is not much but you can ans this letter.

With All My Love
To Gladys

Willie Mays