Following his death this past December, the New York Yankees announced that they would be honoring Nelson Mandela with his own plaque in Yankee Stadium’s famed Monument Park during Tuesday’s league-wide celebration of Jackie Robinson Day.
And before you ask…no, Mandela will not be the first non-baseball player immortalized at Yankee Stadium. Far from it. Also remembered…Pope Paul VI , Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who, like Mandela, all visited the Yankees home at the some point. The victims of the September 11 attacks are also remembered in the park.
Expected to be on hand at the ceremony…Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela, South African Consul General George Monyemangene and the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang.
Now, back to that Mandela visit.
On June 21, 1990, Mandela, who had just recently been released from a South African prison, visited a packed Yankee Stadium. While addressing the crowd, he donned a Yankees cap on his head. Then-Mayor David Dinkins draped a team jacket over his shoulders, and Mandela declared…“you know who I am. I am a Yankee.”
And now, he will be…enshrined alongside such larger-than-life greats as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig.