5 Willie Mays-esque catches in honour of his 85th birthday

In the 1954 World Series, Willie Mays made one of the greatest catches in the history of baseball. Today he turns 85, prompting a look at some of the best Mays-esque grabs ever. 

Known as "The Catch," Mays tracked a ball that was hit to dead centre-field and made an over-the-shoulder snag in New York City's now defunct Polo Grounds. To put into perspective how difficult the play was to make, the deepest part of the park reached 483 feet. The deepest current ballpark in the majors is the Astros' Minute Maid Park, which is 436 feet in centre.

It was Sept. 29, 1954 and the New York Giants (Mays's team) were playing the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the World Series. With two men on base and the score tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth, Vic Wertz hit a screaming fly ball that turned him into baseball trivia fodder as the man who was robbed by Mays.


Here are five more catches that called to mind the Say Hey Kid: 

Rowand breaks nose 

In a play that left him bloodied and out of action for over two weeks during the 2006 season, Philadelphia Phillies centre-fielder Aaron Rowand chased a ball hit over his head and proceeded to crash into the fence while simultaneously making the catch.

Rowand broke his nose on the play, but that tidbit makes it all the more impressive that he was able to hold on. 


Edmonds's blind dive 

This one here is insane. While a member of the then-Anaheim Angels in 1997, Jim Edmonds made what some consider the greatest catch of all time. 

The amount of ground he covered before diving to make the over-the-head catch is a thing of beauty, and needs to be seen to be believed.


Berkman climbs the hill

In what might be the most similar to Mays's catch, the Astros' Lance Berkman made a play in centre-field that is much harder than he made it look.

With the ball hit to the deepest part of the field at the deepest park in MLB, Berkman turned and ran towards the centre-field wall to make an over-the-shoulder catch. 

Berkman had to climb the hill at Minute Maid Park, making the catch a spectacular feat of balance while still being able to track the hit. 


Wright barehands pop fly

Unlike the other plays on this list, David Wright's catch wasn't made in deep centre-field. Instead, the play he made is one of the best ever by a third baseman. 

Retreating towards the outfield grass after a broken-bat pop fly, the Mets third baseman extended his gloveless right hand and snagged the ball, causing one of the broadcasters to say "it may be the best" he's ever seen.


Trout scales the wall

Angels outfielder Mike Trout didn't make an over-the-shoulder catch, but the only reason for that was because the wall was in the way. 

Trout timed his leap perfectly, climbing the outfield wall and taking a three-run home run away from the Mariners' Jesus Montero. 

Channeling his inner Spiderman, Trout made one of the better catches you will ever see.

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