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Willie Mays in midair, 1954 (LIFE)

Photo History: Catching Willie Mays

by Claire O'Neill
May 25, 2011

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A never before published photo shows 22-year-old Willie Mays at spring training in 1954, the year the Giants won the World Series -- the sole championship of Mays' long career. LIFE Mays jogs in from center field, 1954

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Today marks the 60th anniversary of Willie Mays' 1951 major league debut.

OK, so maybe it's a slightly obscure anniversary. But it's baseball season! Plus, these never before published photos were taken by Life legendary photographer Loomis Dean; it seems appropriate that he'd be photographing Mays, a baseball legend in his own right. See the full gallery of Mays in his early career over at Life.

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