Recommended. I sat on this for a couple of weeks, partly to let things settle after the bizarre review in the New York Times Book Review, partly out of laziness, partly because I like to think things through. This is a baseball biography — not just in the sense that it’s a biography of a baseball player, but in the sense that it focuses very heavily on Mays’ baseball career to the exclusion of other things. There’s some material about his early life; his life after his retirement is confined to a longish epilogue. This may be a disappointment to some; Mays’ baseball career is well known, but he’s been private since he stopped playing. On the other hand, his withdrawal from public life means that there really isn’t much to tell. It is, nonetheless, a fine and entertaining book, and worth reading.
From here on out, I’m going to talk about Willie Mays the player, with Willie Mays, the book, coming up as needed. So it’s not a standard book review; I don’t really want to write one.