President Obama to Award Presidential Medal of Freedom to Willie Mays | NBC Bay Area
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President Obama to Award Presidential Medal of Freedom to Willie Mays

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    President Barack Obama will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, to Giants legend Willie Mays this month.

    The Giants legend is among 17 medal recipients named by the White House on Monday, along with late Yankees icon Yogi Berra, composer Stephen Sondheim and director Steven Spielberg.

    Recipients will receive the medals from President Obama in a Nov. 24 at the White House.

    Mays spent most of his 22 Major League seasons playing center field with the Giants, in New York and then San Francisco.

    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    "Known as 'The Say Hey Kid,' Mays was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979 and landed on MLB's All-Time team," the White House said in a statement. "In 1951, Mays became one of the first African-American players in Major League Baseball history and won the Rookie of the Year award. Mays also served his country in the United States Army."

    Mays returned from his military service and was named MVP of the 1954 World Series. He remains close the franchise: When President Obama lauded the 2014 World Champions at the White House earlier this year, "The Say Hey Kid" was one of the first to be introduced.

    "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," Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement. "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."

    The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

    Willie Mays
    Yogi Berra (posthumous)
    Bonnie Carroll
    Shirley Chisholm (posthumous)
    Emilio Estefan
    Gloria Estefan
    Billy Frank, Jr. (posthumous)
    Lee Hamilton
    Katherine G. Johnson
    Barbara Mikulski
    Itzhak Perlman
    William Ruckelshaus
    Stephen Sondheim
    Steven Spielberg
    Barbra Streisand
    James Taylor
    Minoru Yasui (posthumous)

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