THE San Francisco Giants Blog

The Catch, the Flip, and the Fans: Trophy Tributes

Posted in Uncategorized by pawliekokonuts on January 24, 2015

Let’s put to rest any stereotype that Willie Howard Mays Jr. is a grouch. Rather, he is a delightful storyteller, with crackling wit, evident kindness, and self-deprecating humility.

I managed to snag an invite to a private showing of the World Series trophy this morning at the New York Palace hotel. Dennis Z. and I braved a snowstorm and found our way to Manhattan from Dennis’s house about 70 miles northwest. The New York Giants Preservation Society (  spearheaded the event, led by Gary Mintz. (Great job.) Pictures posed with the trophy. I did a 3 with one hand and a 5 with the other. Then on the other side of the second-floor landing, by the stairs, a tall fellow was being interviewed by Joe Panik. I thanked him, shook his hand, asked if he knew George Brown, who played with him at St. John’s. He did indeed. My daughter goes to HS with Brown’s sister. (My camera messed up for most of the event but I might have a video to share.) I went back a bit later and got an autograph for this daughter. Panik is well spoken, friendly, patient, mature beyond his years. Dennis and I skipped the free sumptuous breakfast this palatial place. Too excited. Soon, at the entrance to the Villard ballroom, a clutch of people stood around willie Mays. I got chills. A reverent aura surrounded him. (Pictures to come, somehow.) He was surrounded by what appeared to be a bodyguard and Giants staffers. As he walked in (I was behind), people stood, one by one, and clapped, all 55 guests. At the dais, Mays sat on one end, Panik in the middle. Bryan Srabian, standing, director of digital media of the Giants, served capably as MC. I’ll just share some notes, but first left me say Mays was truly funny. Folks at the table near me, and many others, exchanged comments that more or less said: “Who knew the guy was such a comedian?” You could really see how he kept his whole team loose. Plus, his recall of games and people and episodes was brilliant. Maybe a stat was off here or  there (or not) but his recounting was lush with narrative detail. Humor and charm. I will “download” some recollections right here right now so that I don’t forget details. (It’s all notes for my otherwise-completed next book.) Forgive me if I run into a second thread. Most of the event involved audience Q and A.

The Flip. Someone asked Joe Panik about the double-play in Game 7. He said he knew how Bumgarner pitched (hard sink) and how the batter batted, so he positioned himself where he did. When it was hit, instinct took over. He knew there was no time, so he had to flip it to Crawford. Said you can’t practice that. The questioner lined it to Willie and The Catch, in 1954. Willie was funny: “What do you mean three? I only one one, in ’54. I didn’t win these. Then Willie playfully explained to Panik how you have to nurture the idea of a slogan, The Flip. I’m not explaining it right, but it was perceptive and amusing. All the while, Panik was deferential to Mays — and enjoying his stores, as we all did. [more to come]


6 Responses

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  1. snarkk said, on January 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Sounds like a great time Pawlie, looking forward to pics.
    I won’t argue about Mays’ personality. Glad to hear he was in good spirits today…

    • pawliekokonuts said, on January 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      The staffers told me afterward that he was great at the elementary school yesterday, and were concerned that he’d be fatigued. He gave it his all. More than I’d expect from anyone.

  2. pawliekokonuts said, on January 24, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Panik deftly chimed in that the best center fielder after Willie Mays?? “Blanco and Angel.”
    The kid has a second career as a diplomat!

  3. stickman said, on January 24, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Just a bit jealous, Pawlie. Willie’s been my hero since ’54 when i was a ten year old kid. Class act all the way. What a gift that he’s still going strong and the GIANT among Giants. Totally wonderful that Panik was there with him. The passing of the torch.

    The Dynasty develops.

    • pawliekokonuts said, on January 24, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      I was alive in ’54 but no memory of it. Hypnotize me, and maybe….

  4. snarkk said, on January 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Not to rain on Klay Thompson’s parade last night.
    Down to brass tacks, he made 13 of 13 field goals, and 2 of 2 free throws. Great stuff. But.
    I’d like to know whether anybody in the past matched those basic numbers, with 9 of the field goals in the long range area. The fact that now we have three pointers tends to cloud the historical comparisons. I wouldn’t doubt that Rick Barry or somebody in the past had a very similar quarter somewhere, sometime, making a bunch of long shots without benefit of 3 points for them…

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