Baseball legend Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants are saddened to share the news that Mae Louise Allen Mays, Willie's wife of 41 years, passed away peacefully in her sleep this morning in the couple's Bay Area home after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 74 years old.
Mae Louise Allen was born on May 26, 1938. She grew up in the racially segregated Homewood section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she was an accomplished sprinter. She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and earned a degree in sociology. She went on to graduate school at Howard University where she obtained a master's degree in social work. Mae worked in child welfare and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, she eventually became a "pioneer in getting single adoptions started in San Francisco."
Mae and Willie met in New York, and when Willie later called Mae for a date, she answered the phone and assumed the caller claiming to be Willie Mays was a prankster. When the caller assured her that he was Willie Mays, Mae responded, "Yes, and I am Martha Washington."
Mae and Willie were married in November, 1971. Mae was not only gorgeous, smart and charming, but she was also always modest and elegant. Late in life, Mae waged a 16-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. She remained in their family home with Willie until she passed. Author Jim Hirsch dedicated his recent biography of Willie to Mae, stating that her "grace and beauty touched the soul of a legend."
Mays family attorney Malcolm Heinicke stated, "Mae died peacefully and without pain. Willie is now grieving the loss of his beautiful wife of more than four decades, but he is staying strong by remembering all of the many experiences they enjoyed together. Mae was a beautiful person, and although her illness took some of her memories late in life, Mae passed with full knowledge that Willie loved her dearly. Willie appreciates all of the well wishes of his friends and fans during this difficult time."
"On behalf of the Giants partnership, front office, team, alumni and fans, we express our heartfelt condolences to Willie and his family with the passing of his beloved Mae. I was honored to know Mae and to witness how Willie loved and cared for her," said Larry Baer, Giants president and chief executive officer.
A private funeral service will be scheduled in the near future. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations be made to the Say Hey Foundation. Inc., P.O. Box #2410, Menlo Park, CA 94026.