After his early minor and major league seasons, Mays kept right on playing through the winter, barnstorming the country with black and white all-stars, an activity that would soon fade into history. He slept in segregated hotels, South and North, apart from his white teammates, and when barnstorming disappeared, he played winter ball throughout the Caribbean.
So how good was Willie Mays? He was unlike anything baseball had seen before, or since. He could run like Ty Cobb, field like Joe DiMaggio (only better), hit for power like Babe Ruth, make catches and throws that left his peers shaking their heads in disbelief, swearing that they had never even seen anything to compare it to. He stole bases like a whirlwind, terrifying pitchers, catchers, and fielders alike. He scored from first on a bunt once and could score from second on a ground out. He owned the base paths.