It was one of Willie Mays’ trademarks. As the player would tear around the bases or run down a fly ball in center field, his cap would fly off his head, presumably powerless to hang on in the face of the gale-like wind generated by his almost superhuman speed.
Only, the hat-flying wasn’t exactly as spontaneous as it seemed. It was planned.
Mays would instruct the team’s equipment manager, Eddie Logan, to give him a cap that was a size too small, almost guaranteeing the headwear was going to become unstuck from his head.
Mays did it simply to add drama.
“People like that,” the legend says in the new book, “24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid” (St. Martin’s Press), out now. “They want to see the hat fall off. No problem. I go back, pick it up, and put it back on.”
Mays is a legend of the sport. But as it turns out, he’s also one of the greatest innovators when it comes to showmanship.
At a time when players were encouraged to simply play — to not posture at home plate after belting a home run, to efficiently…