Willie Mays, one of the most iconic American athletes to ever live, quite possibly the most complete baseball player the world has ever seen, was named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday. Mays will join 16 other American icons in receiving the nation's highest civilian honor.
From the official description at WhiteHouse.gov:
Today, President Barack Obama named seventeen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House on November 24th.
Mays is the 11th baseball player to be honored with the Medal of Freedom (along with Yogi Berra, who was also named a recipient on Monday). Here are the other baseball players who have been honored:
- Hank Aaron
- Ernie Banks
- Yogi Berra (posthumously)
- Roberto Clemente (posthumously)
- Joe DiMaggio
- Stan Musial
- Buck O'Neil
- Frank Robinson
- Jackie Robinson (posthumously)
- Ted Williams
That is some outstanding company, though it makes me wonder where in the heck Mays was until now. Maybe to make it up to him, they can rename the honor the Willie Mays Medal of Freedom. Seems fair.
Larry Baer and the Giants released this statement:
"On behalf of the entire Giants organization and our fans, we congratulate Willie Mays on being recognized for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which honors his accomplishments, values, and military service. As everyone knows, Willie is a national treasure and one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to recognize Willie for his endless contributions to our national pastime."
Congratulations to Willie Mays! Really, congratulations to America for Willie Mays existing. The medal might be overdue, but it's just confirming what we all know: That he's an absolute treasure and inspiration.