Giants legend Willie Mays' No. 24 retired by Mets in Old Timers' Day surprise

·2 min read

Giants legend Mays' No. 24 retired by Mets in surprise move originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Willie Mays is known as one of the most prolific Giants to ever play the game, but the Mets have loved him long after his return to New York.

And on Saturday, the team made that adoration official by retiring Mays’ No. 24 in a surprise announcement during their Old Timers’ Day celebration at Citi Field.

Several years after Mays and the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, New York got a new baseball team, the Mets, in 1962.

Just 10 years later, the “Say Hey Kid” was back on the East Coast to play his final two MLB seasons with the Mets in 1972 and 1973.

The Mets’ then-owner Joan Payson had long wanted Mays back in New York, and the Hall of Fame outfielder hit the last 14 home runs of his 660 total as a Met following a 21-year career with the Giants on both coasts.

After Mays, no Mets player wore No. 24 until Kelvin Torve in 1990, but he quickly switched numbers after fan backlash. Both Rickey Henderson and Robinson Cano were given special exemptions to wear the number when they joined the team.

Mays wasn't able to be present for the honor on Saturday, but the Mets released a statement from him.

“I want to thank Steve and Alex Cohen for making this day possible and embracing Mets history,” Mays said. “I can never forget the way it felt to return to New York to play for all the loyal Mets fans. I’m tremendously proud I ended my career in Queens with the Mets during the ’73 World Series. It’s an honor to have my number retired in my two favorite cities -- New York and San Francisco.

"New York was a magical place to play baseball.”

Mays joins Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Jerry Koosman and Keith Hernandez as Mets to have their number retired. His No. 24 was retired by the Giants in 1972.

RELATED: Clark's gracious, emotional speech highlights number retirement

Though Mays’ time in a Mets uniform was short, it’s clear his impact on the team and New York as a whole will live on forever.

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