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.”
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.
“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!