Say Hey kids

They used to call Willie Mays the “Say Hey Kid.”
Mays is considered possibly the greatest all-around baseball player ever and I tend to agree. He played the game with a little boy enthusiasm that made him great fun to watch.
There are a few theories about where his nickname came from but the one that makes the most sense, to me anyway, is that when he came up to the Major Leagues he didn’t know a lot of players’ names so he’d often address his teammates or opponents with, “Hey, man.” A sportswriter picked up on this and gave him the handle for which he became famous.
I knew all of this when I was a kid in elementary school. I also knew Willie Mays was perhaps the only person allowed to use the word “hey” when addressing people. Our teachers made it their business to be sure we didn’t. I can still hear them chiding, “Hay is for horses.”
I think about this whenever I’m watching the Today Show and co-host Hoda Kotb throws a story to, say, White House correspondent Kristen Welker. “Hey, Kristen,” she’ll say, to which Kristen will respond, “Hey, Hoda.”
And every morning I contemplate when “hey” replaced “hi” or even “hello” as a greeting.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing this practice. In fact, I think it’s kinda cool. So much so that I’ve found myself adopting it.
And every time I hear myself say it, I cannot help but wonder if I might have a future in television news. Or maybe even baseball.

Ed Ackerman