Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays was a 24-time All-Star selection and won two National League MVP awards and 12 Gold Gloves during his illustrious career. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
April 22 (UPI) -- MLB Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays has won Baseball Digest magazine's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.
The San Francisco Giants icon was honored Thursday with the new accolade, which will be given annually to a living individual who has made "significant contributions to the national game."
"Baseball Digest was honored to cover and celebrate Willie Mays for the duration of his incredible career, and we are equally honored to celebrate an entire lifetime of contributions to baseball," Baseball Digest publisher Norman Jacobs said in a statement.
"Just as he thrilled us during a Hall of Fame playing career that spanned four decades, Willie has exemplified the best qualities of our game and our country in the nearly 50 years since his retirement."
Mays, who turns 90 in May, was selected over five other finalists in voting by a panel of 12 longtime writers, broadcasters, historians and executives.
Mays, nicknamed the "Say Hey Kid," will make his fourth appearance on a Baseball Digest cover. He previously appeared on the cover of the magazine in September 1954, February 1966 and May 1971.
"I never worried about personal awards. I worried about winning," Mays said in a news release. "But to be honored with this Lifetime Achievement Award, that's a great honor, especially with all the other great names [considered]. All deserving.
"It's a sports award, it's a baseball award, but it's much more. It's about all the things you do. For me, it's about helping kids and making sure they're taken care of because so many people took care of me in my life."
Mays was a 24-time All-Star selection and won two National League MVP awards and 12 Gold Gloves during his illustrious career from 1951-73. He moved with the Giants from New York to San Francisco, then ended his career with two seasons as a member of the New York Mets.
Mays ranks sixth on MLB's all-time home runs list with 660. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year on the ballot.
Also selected as finalists were Hank Aaron, who died earlier this year, Roland Hemond, Rachel Robinson, Vin Scully and Joe Torre.
San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. looks to the sky as he crosses the plate after hitting a leadoff solo home run in the first inning off Los Angeles Dodgers' starting pitcher Trevor Bauer at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday. The Dodgers held on to win 5-4. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo