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Willie's Time

Willie's Time

Baseball's Golden Age

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Charles Einstein


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
368 pages, 5 x 8

Writing Baseball


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About the Book

To a generation of fans, Willie Mays was the greatest ballplayer they had ever seen. The prowess and speed of the Say Hey Kid were unmatched on the diamond before his time, prompting Joe DiMaggio to label him, “the closest you can come to perfection.” He was the first player to hit fifty home runs and steal twenty bases in a single season. Mays played for the New York Giants (1951–1957), San Francisco Giants (1958–1972), and New York Mets (1972–1973), and in his glory days with the Giants he not only set the major league mark for consecutive seasons by appearing in 150 games or more but by winning his two MVP awards a record twelve seasons apart. When Mays retired, he ranked third in career home runs (behind Aaron and Ruth), a record of 660 soon to be surpassed by Mays’s godson, Barry Bonds.

This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the only ballplayer biography ever named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Willie’s Time: Baseball’s Golden Age, restores to print Charles Einstein’s vivid biography of one of the game’s foremost legends. With a new preface from the author, this volume replays the most dramatic moments of the Say Hey Kid’s career—from the 1951 Miracle Giants to the Amazing Mets of 1973—and takes us inside the lives of Ruth, DiMaggio, Aaron, Durocher, and others along the way. Einstein offers a compelling and complete look at Mays: as a youth in racist Birmingham, a triumphant symbol of African American success, a sports hero lionized by fans, and yet all the while, still a very human figure destined to play for two decades amid baseball’s Golden Age.


Charles Einstein has been a journalist, novelist, editor, and screenwriter. A lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and a ranking historian of the game, Einstein is the author or editor of thirty-five books and more than five hundred magazine articles. His previous works include four Fireside Books of Baseball, The New Baseball Reader, and (with Willie Mays) Born to Play Ball and My Life In and Out of Baseball.


“Einstein uses history and Willie Mays interchangeably, and it works. . . . He cares, has a rich memory, and can write up a storm.”New York Times Book Review

“[O]ne of the best nostalgia books in years.”Boston Globe

Willie’s Time is the story of an era—a beautifully written memoir of a tempestuous, complicated, devastating, and exhilarating period in America—twenty-three years that paralleled the baseball career of the most gifted and exciting player in history.”—Gene Shalit, the Today Show

“One can only recall lovingly the man and his joyous vitality—and this Einstein does brilliantly. He masterfully superimposes Mays’s career onto the political and social events that framed it.”—Library Journal

“Absorbing reading.”Publishers Weekly

“Entertaining, enjoyable, and, yes, even educational . . . Charles Einstein’s memoir of the life and times of Willie Mays is a superb blend of sports lore and American history.”Christian Science Monitor

“Baseball fans of whatever vintage, as well as anyone interested in recapturing a slice of the past, should greatly enjoy this knowledgeable and affectionate biography.”New York Post

“A private, guarded man, Willie Mays isn’t easy to know. Einstein seems to know him well. He writes boldly, with love, and from direct experience. The result is a degree of insight that an impersonal history couldn’t achieve.”Denver Post

“Mays had such a glittering career that merely describing the highlights would be entertaining enough. But Einstein does more. He sets the scene. He seeks out the unusual quote. He finds the perfect anecdote. He unearths some choice tidbits that are pure delight.”Newsday

Willie’s Time is a splendid book . . . a moving story, thorough and warm, filled with rich humor and wry anecdote.”The Sporting News

“Einstein relates baseball life to American life as few recent writers have."Forth Worth Star-Telegram

“Einstein documents the crucial role of baseball in the civil rights struggle, drawing a skillful and loving picture of Willie Mays as the archetypal athlete of our time.”Los Angeles Times