Baker thankful he visited Mays day before Giants icon’s death

NBC Sports Bay Area

As the sports world mourns the death of Willie Mays, Dusty Baker reflected on his final visit with the Giants legend, just one day prior.

In an exclusive with Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Baker explained why he decided to visit his close friend Mays at his home in the Bay Area on Monday, the day before the Baseball Hall of Famer’s death.

“There’s just something that told me to go see him,’’ Baker told Nightengale. “My dad used to always tell me that if you’re thinking of someone, don’t put it off. You don’t know if you’ll see them again. Well, I went to see him, and thank God I did.’’

Baker, now a front-office executive with San Francisco, spent nine seasons as the manager for the Giants from 1993-2002 and developed a close relationship with Mays. The longtime baseball figure then expressed the premonitions that prompted him to visit his friend.

“I think about Tupac,’’ Baker explained to Nightengale. “Death is around the corner. I could kind of feel it [Monday] a little bit.’’

The loss of Mays comes right before the Giants are set to play the St. Louis Cardinals at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., where he got his start playing professional baseball with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues.

The game comes on the heels of MLB officially recognizing the stats from Negro League players and incorporating them into the baseball record books.

While the game figured to be a fitting tribute to Mays before his death, the event takes on even greater importance now.

The “Say Hey Kid” is generally regarded as one of, if not the best player in baseball history for his prowess as a hitter and a fielder, with his iconic catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series one of the iconic moments in American sports history.

The 24-time MLB All-Star spent 22 seasons with the Giants, moving to San Francisco in 1958 when the franchise relocated from New York.

While the death of Mays is saddening, Baker can at least take solace in the fact that he was able to see his old friend one last time.

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