Willie Mays, on stage in a school auditorium addressing 400 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders yesterday, "just collapsed like a Slinky toy, like a ton of bricks, like someone just pulled the wheels out from under him."
By afternoon, the baseball Hall of Famer was in his Bally's Park Place suite looking ahead to resuming his regular schedule as goodwill ambassador for that Atlantic City casino hotel by the weekend. But for a little while, whew!
John Buyarski, principal at the Duberson School, Hamilton Township, N.J., provided the quotes up top and went on to tell how he applied mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while a teacher pumped Mays' chest."I couldn't see any breath," Buyarski said. "It was a very harrowing experience."
They revived Mays in about 15 minutes and he was transported to Atlantic City Medical Center, Mainland Division. Extensively checked over, he was released within two hours.
"Just fatigue," said the former Giant and Met center fielder who since 1979 has done community relations work for the casino organization -- giving up part-time work with the Mets because Commissioner Bowie Kuhn saw a taint to the Atlantic City connection (at $100,000 a year) that Mays can't see, for the life of him.