On May 28, 1951, New York Giants rookie Willie Mays collects his first major league hit, a home run against Milwaukee Braves left-hander Warren Spahn. Mays had begun his career in an 0-for-12 slump before breaking through against Spahn.

Mays would then go o for his next 13, to start the season 1-26. One knock on Mays was his inability to hit a curve. Mays claims playing stickball with the kids helped him in Harlem.

In an interview with Salon here is what Mays said –

“I played stickball in the morning, around 10, for about an hour. There was a bunch of kids. They’d come and knock on my window, ’cause my window was on the ground level. I could walk from where I lived down the street to the Polo Grounds. So I’d buy the kids ice cream, then go to the ballpark. I did that all year in ’51, and in ’52 till May, when I went into the military.” I mention that manager Leo Durocher had problems with his stickball, and he smiles.

“I played stickball in the morning, around 10, for about an hour. There was a bunch of kids. They’d come and knock on my window, ’cause my window was on the ground level. I could walk from where I lived down the street to the Polo Grounds. So I’d buy the kids ice cream, then go to the ballpark. I did that all year in ’51, and in ’52 till May, when I went into the military.” I mention that manager Leo Durocher had problems with his stickball, and he smiles.

You can read the full interview here.