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Hall of Famer Willie Mays unable to attend Negro League tribute game at Rickwood Field

Game Day: Giants create pop-up museum to honor Willie Mays
Game Day: Giants create pop-up museum to honor Willie Mays 01:58

Willie Mays will not be in attendance when the San Francisco Giants face the St. Louis Cardinals at Rickwood Field on Thursday in a game honoring him and the Negro Leagues.

Mays, who began his career in Alabama with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and played for the Giants from 1951-72, released a statement on Monday that the Giants shared on X saying that he planned to enjoy the game at home.

"I wish I could come out to Rickwood Field this week to be with you all and enjoy that field with my friends. Rickwood's been part of my life for all of my life," the statement said. 

Mays went on to compare Rickwood to a church and saying that playing for the Birmingham Black Barons one of his earliest goals in baseball.

"I'd like to be there, but I don't move as well as I used to. So I'm going to watch from home," Mays added. "All these years and it is still here. So am I. How about that?"

Mays, 93, is widely considered baseball's greatest living player. He won the World Series with the Giants in 1954 and was a 24-time All-Star during his career, tied with Stan Musial for second-most behind Hank Aaron's 25. Mays won the 1954 major league batting title and was voted NL MVP in 1954 and 1965.

MLB has been working with the city of Birmingham and Friends of Rickwood nonprofit group to renovate the 10,800-seat ballpark, which at 114 years old is the oldest professional ballpark in the United States.

There also will be a Double-A game at the ballpark between the Birmingham Barons and Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League on June 18.

On Tuesday, the baseball world mourned the passing of Mays, who died peacefully surrounded by family on June 18. He will still be honored during the week's festivities.

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