On Friday, May 25, 1951, the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-5, at Shibe Park. It was a solid win for the Giants, but it was also so much more than that.
It was the day that 20-year-old outfielder Willie Mays made his Major League debut after an abbreviated stint with the Minneapolis Millers (a Giants affiliate at the time).
You probably don't have much of a recollection of what things looked like that day, the fateful afternoon Mays headed to the ballpark and began the historic career that would follow.
Young Mays, who was at a movie theater when the Giants officially called him up, hurried to the airport in Omaha, Neb., where this snapshot was taken:
In the hours leading up to his big debut against the Phillies, Mays had plenty of time for more photo-ops that, through the lens of time, look pretty special now. Here he is crossing bats with Giants manager Leo Durocher and team president Horace Stoneham:
And, with the first pitch of his career minutes away, Mays looked focused:
Though he went hitless on the day, batting third in Durocher's lineup between first baseman Whitey Lockman and third baseman Hank Thompson, Mays' appearance in the game would set in motion a truly magnificent Hall of Fame career.
Three years after his '51 debut (and after taking '53 off for a stint in the military), Mays did a lil' something in center field in the World Series that lives on as one of the most iconic moments in the history of baseball.
May 25th, 1951 - Giant's rookie Willie Mays makes his major league debut against the Phillies. Mays goes hitless in five trips to the plate, but makes two outstanding defensive plays to contribute to New York's 8-5 victory.#PortlandDiamondProject #MLBtoPDX #MLB #Portland pic.twitter.com/UeNGgXRD4m— Portland Diamond Project (@PDXDiamondProj) 25 de mayo de 2018
Good thing the Giants stuck with him after that 0-for-5 Major League debut.