Former Chattanooga Choo-Choo and MLB great Willie Mays turns 83 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Former Chattanooga Choo-Choo and MLB great Willie Mays turns 83

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - He's one of the greatest baseball players that's still living and today he turns 83-years-old and surprisingly he has local ties to the Tennessee Valley.

Willie Howard Mays Jr. was born May 6, 1931 in Westfield Alabama. Nicknamed, "The Say Hey Kid", Mays started his baseball career with the Chattanooga Choo-Choos, a Negro minor league team in the Negro Southern League.  

Mays played baseball for the Choo-Choos while still in high school during the summers of 1945 and 1946.

Mays baseball career took off a few years later when he began playing for the New York Giants in 1951.

In 1952 Mays was drafted  by the United States Army and missed most of the 1952 season, as well as the 1953 season.  After his two year stint due to military service, Mays returned to The Giants in 1954.

He stayed with the Giants until 1972, and during his 21 seasons with the Giants, the franchise relocated to San Francisco after the 1957 season.

Mays was traded to the New York Mets in 1972, where he played only one season with the team. Mays retired from Major League Baseball after the 1973 season.

In 1999 Mays was ranked second in The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players and in 1979 he was inducted into the Baseball of Hall of Fame.   

For more information on Willie Mays earlier career playing for the Chattanooga Choo-Choos visit the Engel Foundation.
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