Mae Mays, wife of San Francisco baseball legend Willie Mays for 41 years, died Friday morning at the couple's San Francisco Bay Area home after a 16-year battle with Alzheimer's disease, the Giants announced. She was 74.
Mr. Mays met Mae Louise Allen in New York. 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." They were married in 1971.
Mae Mays grew up in the racially segregated Homewood section of Pittsburgh, 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. She specialized in child welfare and was regarded as a pioneer in getting single adoptions started in San Francisco.
"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," said Giants president Larry Baer. "I was honored to know Mae and to witness how Willie loved and cared for her."