HBO Sports Documentaries in association with Company Name, UNINTERRUPTED & Major League Baseball presents SAY HEY, WILLIE MAYS!, a film exploring the life and career of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, debuting WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and available to stream on HBO Max. Directed by Nelson George, the documentary includes exclusive interviews with Mays and his family. The film will have its world premiere at the 2022 UrbanWorld Film Festival on October 27.
Willie Mays quote: “Over the years, the fans have given me so much joy, and I am excited to express my thanks again through this wonderful documentary and its telling of the story of my career and life. I have worked hard and been fortunate to do many amazing things over the course of my life, and I am excited and proud that the people who see this film, including younger fans who never saw me play, will have the chance to relive this great journey with me and have a few laughs along the way. Watching this documentary brought a proud and grateful smile to my face, and I hope everyone else enjoys it too.”
Nelson George quote: “It’s been one of the highlights of my life to get to talk with and document the life of Willie Mays, perhaps baseball’s greatest player and certainly its most charismatic personality. Not only was he a staple on the Baseball Game of the Week, but crossed over into talk shows and night time entertainment when Black faces were rare. The film is very much a tale of mentorship. Willie was schooled in life and baseball by his father Cat and Negro League players. Later Willie looked out for scores of young Black players including his godson Barry Bonds. An epic American life.”
Synopsis: Willie Mays’ life is a beacon of the “American Dream,” intersecting with a transformative era of the Black American experience. From his formative years playing Negro League baseball in Birmingham, to landing on the country’s biggest stage in New York at the inception of televised games, and expanding with baseball to the west coast during the peak of the Civil Rights movement. Mays transfixed fans from coast to coast with his style, jubilant persona and contagious smile, and helped to erode racial barriers and move the sport of baseball, and the American dialog, forward. SAY HEY, WILLIE MAYS! follows Mays’ life both on and off the field over five decades as he navigated the American sports landscape and the country’s ever-evolving cultural backdrop, all while helping to define what it means to be one of America’s first Black sports superstars. He left an indelible mark in New York City and San Francisco, building a love affair with both cities’ fans.
Mays is undoubtedly one of the best all-around players in Major League history, displaying the rare combination of speed, power and defense whenever he took the field. He played in a record-tying 24 All-Star Games in his 22 years with the Giants (1951-1972) and the Mets (1972-1973). He signed with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League at 16 and then joined the Giants organization in 1950. After serving in the U.S. Army for most of the 1952 season and all of 1953, “The Say Hey Kid” returned to post an MVP season in 1954, leading the Giants to the World Series Championship. He earned NL MVP honors again in 1965 and won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1957-1968. Mays finished his career with a .302 batting average, 660 home runs, 338 stolen bases, a .384 on-base percentage and a .557 slugging percentage. The Alabama native was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979 with 94.7% of all votes, the fourth-highest total ever at the time of his election. In 2017, Major League Baseball renamed the World Series Most Valuable Player in honor of Willie Mays.
Featured interviews: The film features new interviews with Mays, his godson Barry Bonds, and son Michael Mays. Additional interviews include Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal, alongside the late baseball legend Vin Scully, Hall of Fame Broadcasters Jon Miller and Bob Costas, and Mays’ biographer John Shea.