On July 25, 1951 — at Forbes field Willie Mays’s oft-recalled bare-handed grab of left-handed Rocky Nelson’s screaming opposite field line drive takes place in Forbes Field in the 1st inning of a 5 – 4 Giant loss to Pittsburgh. Mays runs to the left-center corner of the bullpen (also known as Greenberg Gardens, or Kiner’s Corner), about 410 feet from the plate. At the last minute, the wind gets a hold of Nelson’s slicing shot and starts pushing it back towards right. Mays looks up and locates the ball but too late to adjust. As he will recall on June 3, 1957, after robbing Roberto Clemente on a shot to almost the same spot, “I couldn’t get my glove around. So I just stuck my bare hand up and the ball stuck.”

Pirates’ General Manager Branch Rickey was in attendance that day and witnessed the incredible catch. He immediately sent a note down to the Giants” dugout: “That was the finest catch I have ever seen, and the finest catch I ever expect to see”

 


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