The idea of Henry Aaron and Willie Mays in the same outfield is the stuff of “all-time team” discussions, yet the two legends came close to beginning their careers as teammates. MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince looks back at an Aaron quote given to author Donald Honig for an essay published close to 20 years ago, as Aaron stated that the Boston Braves and Mays’ New York Giants were among the teams looking to sign Aaron away from the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues.
“I had the Giants’ contract in my hand, but the Braves offered $50 a month more. That’s the only thing that kept Willie Mays and me from being teammates — $50,” Aaron said.
If it’s any consolation to old-school Giants fans, Castrovince notes that this story could be somewhat apocryphal. Plus, Aaron might not have gotten as immediate a chance to regularly play if he had signed with the Giants, considering New York had a stacked team that won the 1954 World Series. However, one can only imagine the alternate version of baseball history that would have grown from a Mays/Aaron tandem in the Giants’ outfield, whether it results in more championships for the Giants, how it would have impacted Aaron’s home run totals, or perhaps whether the Giants would have remained in New York rather than moved to San Francisco.
More on the Braves…
- The Braves had interest in Liam Hendriks before Hendriks signed with the White Sox earlier this month, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). This could indicate that Atlanta is looking to bolster its closing options, and perhaps make a significant investment in the process. The Braves have shown willing to spend on their bullpen in recent years, with moves like last winter’s free agent deal with Will Smith and absorbing Mark Melancon’s contract at the 2019 trade deadline. Melancon handled closer duties for Atlanta in 2020 and is still unsigned, so a reunion seems theoretically possible.
- George Springer was also reportedly on the Braves’ radar until the very late stages of the outfielder’s free agent tenure, though ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (subscription required) writes that the team was looking to act “as a potential safety net” if Springer didn’t find a long-term offer to his satisfaction. Essentially, it would have been this offseason’s version of the Braves’ past one-year deals with Marcell Ozuna and Josh Donaldson, as Atlanta took advantage of thin markets for those two players and were rewarded with outstanding seasons. Springer did find the big deal he was looking for, however, landing a six-year, $150MM contract from the Blue Jays.