The Great Bronx Willie Mayonnaise

Willie Mays: Salad Days

My (Evander’s) neighborhood in Fort Apache the Bronx, is not the best in the world or the worst. But it has its interesting aspects, as all New York neighborhoods do.

A couple of years ago, I ran into a school friend named Steven, who had moved into one of the fancy buildings I face from the other side of the tracks: well, the other side of the Henry Hudson Parkway. We invited Steven for lunch so he could meet the family. From our window, he pointed out that we could see his living room. He then lived in a big white building, with the veddy British name Whitehall. Ed Sullivan, the  guy that introduced Elvis Presley to the civilized world, not to mention The Beatles to teenage America forty seven years ago, had lived there. Some politicos do.

Steven asked if Willie Mays also lived in his building. “How would I know? You live there.”

(Cricket fans everywhere: Mays may have been the greatest center fielder of them all, which takes in Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle for starters.)

In fact, reading between the lines of the new Mays bio it is clear he did live there. I also had a nurse we employed, who works in the Whitehall, confirm this with her other patient: Mays lived in one of the penthouse apartments until maybe six years ago.

Around that time one day, on walking next to my building, I had seen one gentleman pushing another in a wheelchair. It was spring or summer. I was too timid to walk across the street, combined with my not wanting to bother these men.

I am now fairly certain these were Mays pushing Willie McCovey.

But in all my years at this address (26), I had never seen WM at the cleaners, at the fruit stand, or at Key Food, among the mayonnaise jars.

It is thrill enough to know I might have.


About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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