Willie Mays remembered as 'ultimate Forever Giant' as tributes pour in honoring late Hall of Famer

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
World pays tribute to Willie Mays: SF Giants legend dies at 93
Reaction is pouring after the death of San Francisco Giants legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who died Tuesday. He was 93 years old.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tributes are pouring in from around the Bay Area and beyond on Tuesday night after the death of San Francisco Giants legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who died at 93 years old.

The San Francisco Giants released a statement, writing in part:

"It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 93.

"My father has passed away peacefully and among loved ones," said Willie's son, Michael Mays. "I want to thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart for the unwavering love you have shown him over the years. You have been his life's blood."

"Today we have lost a true legend", said Giants Chairman Greg Johnson. "In the pantheon of baseball greats, Willie Mays' combination of tremendous talent, keen intellect, showmanship, and boundless joy set him apart. A 24-time All-Star, the Say Hey Kid is the ultimate Forever Giant. He had a profound influence not only on the game of baseball, but on the fabric of America. He was an inspiration and a hero who will be forever remembered and deeply missed."

"I fell in love with baseball because of Willie, plain and simple," said Giants President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Baer. "My childhood was defined by going to Candlestick with my dad, watching Willie patrol centerfield with grace and the ultimate athleticism. Over the past 30 years, working with Willie, and seeing firsthand his zest for life and unbridled passion for giving to young players and kids, has been one of the joys of my life."

San Francisco Giants Willie Mays poses in 1967. The San Francisco Giants legend and Hall of Famer died at age 93 on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Photo: AP)
San Francisco Giants Willie Mays poses in 1967. The San Francisco Giants legend and Hall of Famer died at age 93 on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Photo: AP)

RELATED: Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants legend and Hall of Famer, dies at 93

On Facebook, former SF Giants star Barry Bonds wrote: "I am beyond devastated and overcome with emotion. I have no words to describe what you mean to me- you helped shape me to be who I am today. Thank you for being my Godfather and always being there. Give my dad a hug for me. Rest in peace Willie, I love you forever. #SayHey."

San Francisco Mayor London Breed wrote:

"To a native San Franciscan, some things just go without question: it's foggy in the summer, cable cars go halfway to the stars, and Willie Mays is the best there ever was.

It was an unbelievable opportunity of a lifetime to meet someone like Willie Mays. I remember hearing about the struggles that he endured because he was black, and what he overcame to become an icon on the field and the greatest baseball player of all time. He was from a generation who faced segregation and racism, a generation that paved the way so that many of us could have the freedom to thrive.

Willie Mays meant so much to this city as a player, but also as a leader, staying involved in San Francisco and the Giants organization long after he retired from the game he loved. Willie Mays will forever be the greatest of giants in the story of San Francisco."

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown spoke with ABC7 News on Tuesday.

"He clearly had skills that were God given. Willie Mays' ability to play all of what you need to do in baseball. Hit, run, throw, catch, Willie. Did it all more perfect and more effective than almost any other individual playing baseball," he said.

Longtime sports rival and Bay Area neighbor The Oakland A's wrote:

"We join the entire baseball community in mourning the passing of Hall of Famer Willie Mays. Our hearts go out to the Mays family and all of his loved ones."

Actor Billy Crystal paid tribute to the icon on X, tweeting:

"The great Willie Mays has passed away. Had the honor of talking with him several times. He loved that we mentioned his '54 World Series catch in @CitySlickers. The man who hit the ball and the "Giant" who caught it signed this ball. RIP #24.. a thrill to watch you play."

Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson said, "I'm devastated to hear about the passing of the legendary Hall of Famer Willie Mays, one of the main reasons I fell in love with baseball. Cookie and I are praying for his family, friends, and fans during this difficult time."

California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote on X: "Willie Mays was more than just a baseball icon, adding "He broke barriers and inspired millions of Americans - setting records, bringing joy to countless fans, and becoming a role model for a generation of future athletes. The 'Say Hey Kid' will be dearly missed - and never forgotten."

Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to the hall of famer on X.

"Willie Mays wasn't just a singular athlete, blessed with an unmatched combination of grace, skill and power. He was also a wonderfully warm and generous person - and an inspiration to an entire generation. I'm lucky to have spent time with him over the years, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family."

Senator Dave Cortese who represents Senate District 15 in San Jose and Santa Clara County wrote in a press release:

"Today, we are mourning the loss of a legend whose contributions to baseball and our community are immeasurable. Watching Willie Mays play was a privilege I will never forget. He was the best I ever saw play... literally. As great as he was at the sport, he was an even better man. His work through the Say Hey Foundation stands as just one example of how he made our community stronger. His memory will continue to inspire generations to come. Rest in peace, Willie. My thoughts are with his family."

The Oakland Ballers wrote: "One of the greatest to ever do it. Rest in Peace Willie Mays."

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said on X: "Nobody ever ran the bases, played centerfield or hit the ball with the skill, panache and elegance of Willie Mays. His passing is a tremendous loss for the baseball world and particulalry for San Francisco. He was a national treasure. We will miss him."

Fans, Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown Remember Willie Mays

The San Francisco Giants were in Chicago Tuesday but some of their fans showed up outside of Oracle Park to remember Willie Mays.

One by one Willie Mays fans arrived at Oracle Park Tuesday, hours after learning of his death, to pay their respects to the late San Francisco Giants center fielder.

"Paying homage to the GOAT, the great Willie Mays," said Bill Souders.

Some left flowers, others notes that read, "You are always our 'Say Hey Kid,' and forever Giant."

"He clearly had skills that were God given. Hit, run, throw, catch, Willie did it all more perfect and more effective than almost any other individual playing baseball," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

Brown was friends with Willie Mays and says what he did in the process of chasing equality in San Francisco and beyond was monumental.

"His sensitivity to the whole process of people not wanting Black people around led to many White people changing their attitude all because of Willie Mays. I suspect that there is probably no other African American athlete or a White athlete that ever had as much social impact on us as Willie Mays," said Brown.

Fans just taking a moment to remember the kid they loved so much.

"It was must-see TV when he was at bat, you stopped and watched him. In the field the finesse was just incredible. Everything he did was just done with grace," said Paul Ferrey.

We spoke with one man who told us he watched Willie Mays with his 93-year-old dad back in the day and won't forget that anytime soon. He spoke with his father Tuesday. Both saddened by the news but grateful for those special times.

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