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Oracle Park watch party draws young and old fans to honor Willie Mays' legacy

Watch party draws young and old fans of Willie Mays to Oracle Park
Watch party draws young and old fans of Willie Mays to Oracle Park 03:27

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thursday was a special day at Oracle Park, where hundreds of San Francisco Giants fans assembled to pay tribute to their all-time favorite player, the late Willie Mays.

Among the crowd was Teddy Schall, a lifelong fan.

"I came here thinking about the memories, look at the statue. I brought flowers from my backyard at home to lay at the base here and my plan is to watch the game here at the ballpark," Schall said.

Although Teddy was born after Willie Mays retired, he grew up watching clips of Mays making history, not only on the field but also as a San Francisco institution.

"I knew him more as a civic icon in San Francisco and sort of patriarch of the San Francisco Giants and I've been inspired by how involved he was for so many years -- all the way up to the end," he said.

Fans like Teddy were honoring Mays with a special screening of the game between the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. The game was in tribute to Negro League stars including Mays, who played for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948 before signing with the Giants.

The emotion was palpable as fans recalled the legendary player who died Tuesday at the age of 93. Cinthia Fryerger was another devoted fan who shared her sentiments.

"I've been crying for two days … It's just really emotional. I'm old enough to remember going to Candlestick park and seeing him."

Holding back tears, Fryerger clutched a cherished, signe photograph of Mays. "I got a chance to meet him and he signed that for me and I brought it today and we brought orange flowers to put on the statue," she said.

Mays' impact on and off the field was significant, Fryerger said.

"I think it goes beyond San Francisco. He's our guy even though he went to the Mets. He's still our guy and his mind was baseball, not just the hitting -- the running, the catching, the love for the game. Wanting to get the fans enthusiastic about it."

Fryerger encouraged others to appreciate Mays' contributions.

"Just watch him. Watch how he played. Learn to love the game. It's not the number one game in America, I guess, but it's my number one game."

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