Willie Mays Left A Game In 1963 So Baseball History Could Be Made

Very few athletes come complete with their own catchphrase, but Willie Mays, legendary center fielder for the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets (per the Baseball Hall of Fame), was up to the task. As Life reports, it's not clear how he got the nickname, but for the majority of his career Mays was called "The 'Say-Hey' Kid." Perhaps that's because of his zest for life and for the intense joy he seemed to derive from being on the diamond.

As one of the greatest players of his era, and in particular, considering that he was an enthusiastic player who gave it his all on every play, it should come as no surprise that Willie's managers, and Willie himself, were keen to see him on the field instead of off of it. However, for a few outs in a 1963 game, according to the Society for American Baseball Research, Mays sat on the bench deliberately. He wasn't being stubborn or recalcitrant, but rather, he was letting another Giants outfielder take his spot so that baseball history could be made.

The Alou brothers

Today, professional baseball players from the Dominican Republic are far from rare: as Dominican Today notes, the Caribbean island had produced no fewer than 99 players who appeared on a Major League Baseball roster in 2022. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, however, Dominican players were rare indeed.

Felipe Rojas Alou was scouted by a Giants scout and first appeared with the team in June 1958, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. By 1963, two more Alou brothers, Mateo (Matty) Rojas Alou and Jesús Maria Rojas Alou, had joined the team. By the end of the 1963 season, the Giants were on the periphery of playoff contention, and the three Alou brothers found themselves on a Giants outfield stacked with talent, with Willie Mays at the top of the list.

On September 30, 1963, the Giants had a solid lead over the Pirates, and Mays was benched so that Felipe, Matty, and Jesús could occupy all three positions in the Giants' outfield. The three men played for two complete innings, marking the first time that three brothers were on the field at the same time on a Major League Roster.

fathers, sons, and brothers on Major League roster

The Alou brothers may have marked the first time that three brothers were all on the same field at the same time for a Major League Baseball team, but throughout history, there have been other instances of family professional players sharing the baseball tradition with siblings, or passing it down to their kids.

For example, the aforementioned Felipe Alou fathered  Moises Alou, outfielder for the Giants and Mets, according to Baseball Almanac. Sandy Alomar was the father of both Sandy Alomar Jr. and Roberto Alomar, and Phil Nevin was the father of Tyler Nevin. The only father and son to appear on the same team at the same time, however, were Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr., according to NBC Sports.

Similarly, according to Major League Baseball's website, almost 100 pairs of brothers have been on the same MLB roster at the same times in their careers, including Roberto and Sandy Alomar. The 2022 World Series also saw two brothers competing, though they weren't on the same team: Phil Maton and Nick Maton were both on teams that appeared in the Fall Classic this year, although, as NBC News reports, Phil missed the Series due to an injury.