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How $50 kept Aaron, Mays from becoming Giants teammates originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were MLB All-Star teammates 22 times. Now, imagine if they were Giants teammates throughout their legendary careers.
It almost happened. What stopped the two Hall of Famers from sharing an outfield together? $50 a month. That's it.
"I had the Giants’ contract in my hand,” Aaron is quoted as saying in an essay titled “Batting Around,” by author Donald Honing. "But the Braves offered $50 a month more. That’s the only thing that kept Willie Mays and me from being teammates -- $50.”
Boston Braves scout Dewey Higgs signed Aaron in June 1952. Higgs reportedly paid the Indianapolis Colts of the Negro Leagues $10,000 for Aaron's rights.
Aaron made his MLB debut with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and immediately looked like a future star. That same season, Mays returned from his one year away from baseball due to military service and won the NL MVP, when he hit .345 with 41 home runs. Starting in 1955, Mays and Aaron were All-Star teammates for the next 19 years.
That brings us back to the big what-if: What if these two were teammates instead of being sucked into debates of the best player in the game? Would the Giants have won multiple World Series? What would their stats look like as teammates? Could they have hit even more homers if they shared a lineup?
Mays and Aaron both grew up in Alabama. They both starred in the Negro Leagues and MLB. They are icons, heroes, and legends.
If they were teammates, they could have led a Giants dynasty long before the likes of Buster Posey and so many more brought titles to San Francisco.