Sportswriters routinely reached for superlatives to describe the play of Willie Mays. An All-Star for twenty consecutive seasons, Mays was a marvel of power, speed, and agility, whether he was patrolling the outfield, swinging a bat, or looking for a chance to steal a base. He signed with the New York Giants in 1950, when he was nineteen, and during more than two decades in the major leagues, he accrued records in hitting and fielding that place him among the best all-around players in baseball history. Twice named as the National League's most valuable player, Mays hit 660 home runs and recorded a career batting average of .302. A natural leader, he provided the spark that carried the Giants to many of their most memorable victories, and in 1961 he became the first African American to captain a major league team.