Thanks to a lifelong Willie Mays fan’s attention to the numbers, the Giants are taking advantage of the numbers and celebrating their most beloved franchise icons.


Feb. 4, 2024, will officially be proclaimed “Willie Mays Day” by San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Of course, it’s a proper honor for the Hall of Fame MLBbro who made the No. 24 legendary during his iconic career with the Giants.


Willie Mays Statement On “Willie Mays Day”


“I am honored by Mayor Breed’s proclamation and would like to thank the City of San Francisco and the Giants for this day,” Mays, 92, said in a statement. “The game of baseball has been great to me, and not only was I given the opportunity to play, but I was also given the opportunity to help kids all around the world. To me, this day means I am loved. This is as much my day as it is for everyone who loves the Game.”


As part of the festivities, several San Francisco landmarks — including City Hall, the Ferry Building and Salesforce Tower — will be lit up in orange and black lights on Sunday. Oracle Park will also be illuminated, with a decorative banner hanging from the 24 palm trees in Willie Mays Plaza to commemorate the occasion.

The idea for “Willie Mays Day” first came from Adam Swig, a Giants season-ticket holder and the founder and executive director of the California nonprofit Value Culture. After realizing that a date synonymous with Mays — 2/4/24 — was approaching on the calendar, Swig reached out to Giants president and CEO Larry Baer, who began working with Breed to bring “Willie Mays Day” to life.


“I feel like I’m one of millions of kids that played baseball in the backyard pretending I was Willie Mays in San Francisco,” Baer said Thursday. “Being able to continue to honor him and continue to be part of the Giants family, especially this year when we’re going to Rickwood [Field], it’s really spectacular.

“To me, he will always be the greatest player ever. I think the majority of baseball fans that go back to watching him play probably feel that.”


The 2024 Field Of Dreams Game Will Be Played At Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Where The Negro Leagues Legend Of Willie Mays Began


Mays’ legacy will further be celebrated on June 20, when the Giants will face off against the Cardinals at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., the former home of the Negro Leagues’ Birmingham Black Barons, where the Say Hey Kid played as a teenager.


The Giants are also planning to give out 20,000 bobbleheads featuring Mays in his Black Barons uniform in honor of African American Heritage Day at Oracle Park on May 31.


“We can’t wait to welcome the Cardinals, the Giants, as well as the entire world to Birmingham,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said.


The Major League game will be prefaced with a Minor League game between the Birmingham Barons and the Montgomery Biscuits, scheduled for June 18, 2024. Renovations will began on October 23 to prepare the stadium relic for an unforgettable week.


“This is a seminal moment in Negro Leagues and Black baseball history to have Major League baseball come to Birmingham to Rickwood Field where so much baseball history was made,” President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Bob Kendrick said.

“When we literally throw this back in time, this is going to be a watershed moment for Negro Leagues history.”

Willie Mays Starred For Birmingham Baron In Negro Leagues

The Barons played in the Southern Association until 1961. The stadium also served as the home of the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro Leagues between 1924 and 1960.


“We are proud to bring Major League Baseball to historic Rickwood Field in 2024,” said Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. in a statement. “This opportunity to pay tribute to the Negro Leagues as the Giants and Cardinals play a regular season game at this iconic location is a great honor. The legacy of the Negro Leagues and its greatest living player, Willie Mays, is one of excellence and perseverance. We look forward to sharing the stories of the Negro Leagues throughout this event next year.”


Mays patrolled center field for the Barons at just 17 years old before making his debut in the Majors at 20 on May 25, 1951, with the New York Giants. He went on to become one of the best all-around players in the Majors. He won 12 Gold Glove Awards, hit 660 home runs, is a member of the 3,000-hit club, won a batting title, four home run titles, and four stolen base titles. He ranks among the all-time leaders in Wins Above Replacement, and he missed two full seasons during the prime of his career while serving in the military.


“Our National Pastime always welcomes the opportunity to celebrate the game’s greatest living player, Willie Mays,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “


Mays spent 21 of his 23 illustrious and groundbreaking Major League seasons with the Giants, serving as the most prominent bridge between the New York and San Francisco eras.

A two-time National League MVP, a 24-time All-Star and a 12-time Gold Glove Award winner, Mays hit .301 and ranks sixth on the all-time list with 660 career home runs and is still known as the premier defender at his position.

To celebrate the GOAT center fielder’s 90 birthday in 2021, the Giants Community Fund launched the Willie Mays Scholars program, a need-based scholarship available to Black ninth and 11th graders living in San Francisco that is currently accepting applications.

Respect the originators!

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