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San Francisco Giants lead Bay Area in mourning "true legend" Willie Mays

Tributes pour in for San Francisco Giants legend Willie Mays
Tributes pour in for San Francisco Giants legend Willie Mays 03:21

The San Francisco Giants paid tribute to the "Say Hey Kid" Willie Mays Tuesday evening, saluting the baseball legend after announcing he had passed away peacefully at age 93.

The team was among the first to break the news with posts to its social media accounts shortly before 6 p.m.

The team released a statement on its website paying tribute to the 24-time all-star player.

"Today we have lost a true legend", Giants Chairman Greg Johnson said in the statement. "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."  

San Francisco Giants legend Willie Mays dies at age 93 09:00

"I fell in love with baseball because of Willie, plain and simple," added 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."  

The team just shared a statement on Monday that Mays wouldn't be able to attend the tribute game at Rickwood Field on Thursday in a game between the Giants and the Cardinals honoring him and the Negro Leagues.

Mays was a longtime fixture at Giants games, with the team erecting a statue in his honor when their new home, then called AT&T Park, opened in 2000. Within an hour of the news breaking, flowers were being left at the base of the statue by fans.

The MLB account on X also posted a heartfelt tribute to Mays.

"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Hall of Famer Willie Mays, one of the most exciting all-around players in the history of our sport," the post said.

Barry Bonds, Mays' godson who also went on to have a legendary career with the Giants, said, "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 big hug for me. Rest in peace Willie. I love you forever. #SayHey"

Tributes were also held at live games being played across the country including a moment of silence at Wrigley Field and an announcement during the New York Mets game at Citi Field as the news of the baseball legend's death spread.

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement on Mays' passing.

"Willie Mays was more than just a baseball icon. 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," Newsom said. 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed also released a statement on the passage.

"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," the statement read. "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," Breed added.   

She included a black-and-white of herself with Mays at the Giants' ballpark with a post on X of her statement.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown -- arguably the second most famous "Willie" with inextricable ties to the City -- also paid tribute, calling Mays as important as Jackie Robinson.

"He was a incredible gentleman in the nature of how he did what he did, when he said, I'll play for the Giants in San Francisco. And he had to go through Charles and tribulations of an African American trying to live in a city where they had limitations that they denied," Brown said in an interview with CBS News Bay Area. "And Willie Mays traversed all of that and became a part of what changed the nature of how this nation treated baseball players. That's the history of Willie Mays. You cannot talk about San Francisco these days without he will always be a fabric of the Bay Area, but especially San Francisco."

There were also personal tributes from a number of sports greats, including Barry Bonds, retired pitcher C.C Sabathia, groundbreaking tennis player Billie Jean King and basketball hero Magic Johnson.  

The Giants said Tuesday that a public memorial for Mays will be announced at a later date.

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