The San Francisco Giants held a memorial at Oracle Park yesterday for perhaps the greatest baseball player to ever live: Willie Mays.  

The Say Hey Kid.  Named so, because of his ebullient personality and his penchant for saying “Say Hey” to people wherever he met them.

I coach youth baseball because it is the greatest sport for teaching life lessons.  The game is mostly one of failure, but with preparation and anticipation, you can achieve individual and team success.   

Willie is remembered for his intelligence, preparation and all out effort.  These are not baseball skills, these are life skills.     

Former teammate and Giants manager Felipe Alou moved from centerfield to rightfield to be able to play next to Willie.  He remembered that Willie was the Captain of the team, but said that was too diminutive, he should have been named the General.     

Former President Bill Clinton had a characteristically long tribute to his friend Willie Mays, but summed up Willie as follows:

“Willie Mays gave me the chance to realize what real greatness is. . . it's a curious combination of intelligence, dedication, the will to win and a fundamental humility to believe that the effort is the prize.”   

I have met Willie many times, but never had the chance to see him play in a game.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of my heroes share what they loved about Willie the person and Willie the player yesterday.  

Rest in peace you lion of the game.    

Photo Credit: SFGate