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A Giant talent, allowed to blossom

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in Leaders & Managers

When he was pulled up from the minor leagues in 1951, Willie Mays told New York Giants manager Leo Durocher that he didn’t think he was ready to play in the majors.

Nonsense, Durocher said. But after recording only one hit in his first 26 at-bats, Mays told his manager again that he’d been brought up too soon.

To help Mays relax—and rely on his abundant talent—Durocher gave his rookie center fielder an unqualified show of support:

“As long as I’m the manager, Willie, you’re going to play center field,” Durocher said. “You are the best ballplayer I have ever seen.”

Those words snapped Mays back to life. In his next 24 at bats, Mays smacked nine hits and went on to become the National League’s rookie of the year.

By the end of his career, Mays had pounded 660 home runs and 3,283 base hits. He made baseball’s Hall of Fame and its All-Century Team.

Lesson: When your rookies have talent but lack confidence to match, build them up.

—Adapted from “Giving Every Game His All Swung Him to Greatness,” Michael Mink, Investor’s Business Daily.

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