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Honoring Willie Mays: A Tribute to African American History at Citi Field”

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(Date Taken: June 19, 2024, GC Media) | At Mets Executive Office reception, Don Victor Mooney holds an archived citation honoring Willie Mays for 400 Years of African-American History at Brooklyn Bridge Park on August 17, 2019.
(Date Taken: June 19, 2024, GC Media) | At Mets Executive Office reception, Don Victor Mooney holds an archived citation honoring Willie Mays for 400 Years of African-American History at Brooklyn Bridge Park on August 17, 2019.

Last Tuesday, Citi Field, the renowned home of the New York Mets, closed its gates in observance of Juneteenth, marking a poignant moment of reflection and celebration.

The following day, the President of H.R. 1242 Resilience Project, Don Victor Mooney, returned to deliver a cherished archived citation honoring baseball legend Willie Mays.

In a heartfelt letter addressed to Steve Cohen, Chairman, CEO, and owner of the New York Mets, Mooney requested the citation, accompanied by a candle and remarks from Congressman John Lewis, be sent to the Mays family. The letter concluded with a humble request for a small group to ceremoniously walk the bases at Citi Field in homage to Willie Mays.

“We hope that ‘Say Hey Kid Day’ will see bases touched at ballparks nationwide throughout the 2024 MLB season in honor of Willie Mays, with Opening Day festivities scheduled at Citi Field,” Mooney stated.

In a significant nod to the 400 Years of African American History, the occasion was marked by a special event at Pebble Beach in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Former Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, now Mayor of New York City, joined Mooney in paying tribute to labor leaders, clergy, educators, law enforcement, community advocates, and United Nations ambassadors.

The event, themed “400 Years: Resilience, Faith, Healing, and Partnership,” commemorated the arrival of the first enslaved Africans at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619.

Willie Mays, affectionately known as the “Say Hey Kid,” began his illustrious baseball career in the Negro Leagues with the Birmingham Black Barons before achieving iconic status with the New York/San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets.

Reflecting on his storied career, Mays once wrote to fans in Birmingham, Alabama, “Some things take time, but I always think better late than never. Time changes things. Time heals wounds, and that is a good thing.”

In honor of Mays and the legacy of the Negro Leagues, Major League Baseball (MLB) orchestrated a week of special events, including the unveiling of a mural commemorating Willie Mays in downtown Birmingham. Tragically, the celebrations took on greater poignancy when Mays passed away at the age of 93 on June 18

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