Some consider Willie Mays to be the greatest baseball player ever. The legendary Baseball Hall of Fame member passed away this week at the age of 93.

Mays played 24 seasons of professional baseball, 23 with Major League Baseball, and one season with the Negro American League. His career included 660 home runs, 1,909 RBIs, 339 stolen bases, and a career .301 batting average. He made 24 All Star teams, won 12 Gold Gloves, the NL Rookie of the Year award, 2 National League MVP Awards, and won the 1954 World Series.

It's very easy to see why he's a Hall of Fame member on stats alone. But Willie Mays was the type of player that people would tell legends of after they watched him play. Many know his most iconic play...known simply as The Catch...

Fans in Shreveport were lucky enough to get a chance to see this icon play in-person. According to research from Shreveport sports editor/writer Nico Van Thyn, Willie Mays played in Shreveport numerous times in the 1950s and 1960s.

In that era, Shreveport hosted minor league baseball every summer. Between teams like the Shreveport Braves and Shreveport Captains, there was baseball to be enjoyed across the city of Shreveport. But it wasn't just minor league baseball that was being played in the city. Barnstorming and exhibition games were a regular menu item for fans too.

Van Thyn's research shows that in 1952, Mays was set to play an exhibition game with the San Francisco Giants against the Cleveland Indians. While that game did take place (Cleveland won 2-1), Mays did not play. He was in Alabama appealing to the Military Draft Board.

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But by 1956, Mays was ready to take the field in Shreveport. The Giants were again playing the Indians for an exhibition game in Shreveport, and this time Mays did play. While we don't know what his exact final stat line was, Van Thyn lets us know that the Hall of Famer Mays faced off with Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. In that matchup, Feller won, striking out Mays in front of 5,404 people.

It looks like Mays' last game in Shreveport came in 1969, where again the Giants played an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians. Mays was in centerfield that day, playing alongside star outfielder Bobby Bonds. There were a couple other Hall of Fame players on the field that day too, including Willie McCovey (who hit two home runs, one was a grand slam) and Gaylord Perry.

Credit: Texas League Office Files
Credit: Texas League Office Files

Even though the last game Willie Mays played in Shreveport was in 1969, it wasn't his last visit to Shreveport. Over the next few decades, Mays would act as a "roving coach" of sorts for the San Francisco organization. From 1979 to 2002, the Shreveport Captains acted as a minor league affiliate of the Giants. So Mays would visit the team on a regular basis.

When Mays was in Shreveport with the Giants organization, he would often make time to sign autographs for fans and take pictures around the stadium. Creating numerous memories for Shreveport residents.

Closest MLB Minor League Baseball Parks To Shreveport

Negro League Baseball Teams From Louisiana

The state of Louisiana was home to numerous Negro League baseball clubs. However, news coverage of these teams can be extremely difficult to trace. This isn't an issue exclusive to Louisiana when it comes to the Negro Leagues, the coverage across the country was lacking during this era. But historians have complied details on many former Louisiana teams, here are some of the franchises they have been able to track.

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